Click to read: DESMAN Journeys

DESMAN Journeys

The Durrell Endangered Species Management Graduate Certificate course (DESMAN) is Durrell’s flagship course and has been running for more than 30 years. So far, nearly 800 people from more than 100 countries have graduated from the DESMAN course – and many have gone on to achieve some fantastic conservation results.

This year 15 people from 10 countries are enrolled on the course. We’ll be following three of them on their 12-week DESMAN journey. We’ll then catch up with them when they return home to see how they’re applying the skills and knowledge they learned at Durrell.

We’re delighted to introduce the three students taking part in this year’s ‘DESMAN Journey’. 

They’ll be posting regularly updates throughout the year on our blog.

Stephan Mellier, Field Biologist,  Mauritian Wildlife Foundation

Can you briefly introduce yourself?

I come from Mauritius and have been working for the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation for nearly six years.  I work on a reptile project on a tiny coral island call Ile Aux Aigrettes found on the south east of Mauritius.

What do you hope to gain from your experience here in Durrell?

I hope to gain lots of leadership skills and knowledge because this will help me lead successful projects and communicate well within a team.

What is conservation movement like in your country?

Mauritius has suffered from rapid population growth and industrialization. There has also been lots of deforestation that has had an impact on plants and animals. Restoration programmes have helped to save some species, which were on the brink of extinction.

What do you hope to achieve when you go home based on your time here?

I will apply the techniques I acquire at Durrell in my work to help my organisation. I’m looking forward is passing this knowledge on to my team mates.

How does it feel to be a part of DESMAN 2016?

It’s exciting to be among this group. Everyone brings something different, and by sharing our experiences, we are all learning from one another.  


Nereus Mitchel, Forestry Dept, St Lucia

I’m from the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia. I have been involved in wildlife conservation for the past 20 years, working to conserve many rare, small, unique and beautiful animals in my country.  And guess what? I’m the latest recruit from Saint Lucia enrolled in DESMAN 2016 and am excited to be a part of Durrell’s Army!

What do you hope gain from the experience in Durrell?

I’m hoping to gain practical skills and knowledge that can be applied to conservation in my island. I’m also here to network and share information and experiences with like-minded people. I also hope to improve my leadership and interpersonal skills.

What is the conservation like in your country?

Saint Lucia is small country where livelihoods and biodiversity are closely linked.  The island has suffered much from misuse of the natural resources including deforestation, unhealthy farming practices and unplanned development, resulting in species loss and habitat degradation.  However, the island has registered many successes including increasing the population of the national bird from 80 individuals in 1980 to about 2000 presently.  Many conservation programs now have a livelihood component attached to it.  This might just be one core elements to saving our island’s biodiversity.

What do you to hope to achieve when go home based on your time there?

I hope to apply and share the skills I’ve learned to increase the success of biodiversity conservation priorities on my island.

How does it feel to be a part of DESMAN 2016?

Blessed! Simply blessed. I consider it a privilege and an opportunity and will make the best out of it.


Mirela Alcolea, Tamarin Researcher, Sao Paulo, Brazil

I am a Biology student from Brazil. I work with the black lion tamarin, in the Black Lion Tamarin Conservation Program (BLTCP) - Institute for Ecological Research.

What do you hope to gain from your experience here at Durrell?

I’d like to learn management skills, with a multi-disciplinary approach so I can apply these skills back home. I hope to improve the BLTCP in Brazil and help this endangered species.

What is the conservation movement like in your country?

Brazil is a country that really needs conservation and must conserve its ecosystem resources. Many of its species are threatened mainly due to deforestation, which is still taking place on a large scale. However, it is difficult to protect them in Brazil because we conservationists do not have much support from the public, business or government for this.

What do you hope to achieve when you go home based on your time here?

I hope I can broaden my conservation knowledge to help me handle and overcome potential problems.

How does it feel to be a part of DESMAN 2016?

I feel very motivated to be a part of the course and to learn from it. I am also excited to have the opportunity to meet people from around the world and learn from their conservation programmes. I feel it is a responsibility, so I’ll try to do my best and learn as much as I can.



Posted 10 March 2016

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