In May this year as part of our SAFE Programme work in Madagascar to develop amphibian captive capacity, Jeanne Soamiarimampionona – or Mampy as she prefers to be known – who works with our project partners Association Mitsinjo at Andasibe, Madagascar spent a month working with the team at the Durrell Wildlife Park in Jersey.
This was an invaluable opportunity for Mampy, who had never before left Madagascar, to get experience working for an extended period of time in a world leading herpetology department and develop her own knowledge and skills. Mampy spent time working alongside Durrell staff and volunteers in all areas and programmes , including learning the different food cultivation methods and working in our biosecure breeding facility for the Critically Endangered mountain chicken (Leptodactylus fallax). Importantly it also gave her constant exposure to the application of all the various protocols involved in the running of the department including biosecurity and detailed daily record keeping. You can read about her experience in Jersey in her own words in this previous blog.
Of course, the true impact of any training intervention is how trainees subsequently utilize the knowledge and implement the skills learnt. It is therefore fantastic to hear that since returning to Andasibe, she has been doing just that. According to Devin Edmonds, Mitsinjo’s Amphibian Conservation Director, upon her return Mampy instigated some experimental cultures for springtails, one of the food sources raised, based on what she had learnt in Jersey. These have been so successful that they are now planning on switching all their springtail cultures to this new method.
Spending time working in facility such as Durrell’s with so many strict protocols especially around biosecurity means that that way of working eventually becomes ingrained. Since returning Mampy has been able to strengthen and further instil this ethos amongst the team at Mitsinjo. This perhaps reflects one of the most important aspects that internship style interventions like this can deliver, improving an individual’s confidence and self-belief. Having the confidence to pass on knowledge, influence others and implement changes is hugely important if the training undertaken by an individual is to be disseminated through an organisation. Indeed, as Devin report’s even though it was just one individual who went on the training trip it has given a lift to the whole team, boosting motivation which is really encouraging to hear.
Looking to the future the hope and plan is that the team at Mitsinjo, bolstered by such training interventions will be able to further share their skills and knowledge with other captive centres in Madagascar to develop a network of skilled technicians and practitioners within the country.