Durrell Conservation Academy

We take great pride in the achievements of our graduates, some of whom have gone on to become leaders in the field of conservation. Please read the testimonials below from some of them, where they share some of their memories of Durrell Conservation Academy and talk about the impact the training has had on them.

Ian Singleton

Dr Ian Singleton

Conservation Director, Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme

Ian is the director of the Orangutan Conservation Programme and manages new projects in species and nature conservation. Ian attended the ESR course in 1987

I read Gerald Durrell's books as a teenager and when doing a degree in environmental studies had the opportunity to do a thesis on the role of zoos in the conservation of endangered species. To do that, I attended the summer school in 1987, which helped me a lot. Then later, after leaving university, I worked at Whipsnade and Edinburgh Zoos before applying to Durrell, and being lucky enough to land a job on the ape section, eventually as head orangutan keeper, and I stayed there for the next 8 years.
Through Durrell's books and my membership of the Trust. I joined when I was a teenager around the time I started my degree.
Huge, a real motivator. I met a lot of people doing great things and most were just normal people like me. So it made me realise I was capable of doing something useful too! I think that was when I decided I wanted to be a zookeeper at Jersey! Now I am keen to see if we can set up similar field projects with a more diverse array of species in Indonesia (not only orangutans). There is so much potential in this country for Durrell style conservation projects!
Meeting different people from different backgrounds, doing useful things in various countries, and making a difference! It was fun in other ways too, and I learned a great deal. But it was simply being around so many like minded people, staff and students alike that I probably enjoyed the most.
I must admit I enjoyed being around the orangutans even then. Also, just meeting the staff and other trainees. I also had a very keen interest in reptiles and amphibians at the time and so particularly enjoyed learning more about what went on in a zoo herpetology department like the one at Durrell.
To do all I can to ensure there are still some orangutans in the wild when Indonesia is eventually able to better protect them. To keep up the fight to save Sumatra's remaining forests basically, and all their amazing biodiversity, not just the orangutans!

Arturo Muñoz

Arturo Muñoz

Founder, Bolivian Amphibian Initiative

Arturo is a Bolivian biologist, he has worked extensively with amphibians in Lake Titicaca. He founded the Bolivian Amphibian Initiative in order to generate information, monitor and protect Bolivian amphibian species.Arturo attended the Amphibian Biodiversity Conservation course in 2006.

My first contact with Durrell was in 2006 when the amphibian conservation course was carried out in Jersey. Since then I have been in contact with Durrell staff and created a relationship and friendship, which led me to take a 4 month internship at Durrell in 2011.
The first time was in 2006 when I went on the amphibian conservation course; this is when I learnt about Durrell and the International Training Centre.
Durrell has changed my life as a biologist by providing me with the skills and passion to work in conservation. When I first had contact with Durrell Conservation Academy I was working as a field biologist and taxonomist, describing new species and carrying out research. When I went back to Bolivia after the amphibian course I started to work in conservation, small scale but changing my life as a conservationist.
Thanks to Durrell Conservation Academy I was able to introduce more people from my country into amphibian conservation with the amphibian conservation course in Lake Titicaca in Bolivia in 2009. After this course the relationship has provided me with a lot of skills for my project in amphibian conservation. The tools that I was provided with (like the facilitator course, working in the veterinary and herpetology department) were a key factor and just in time to be able to work in a better way in the conservation project that I started after 2006.
Now after a four month internship in Jersey I come back to Bolivia with a lot of knowledge, energy and with a special feeling that back in Durrell I have a family that is supporting my work.
The great opportunity to meet people from all over the world that have the same goals as me, people with different backgrounds but the same desire, to know more about saving species from extinction. Also people shared a lot of things so that we could all learn and work together.
The family feeling when at Durrell Conservation Academy as lived and worked together.
My plans are to keep working with the Bolivian amphibian initiative, to gather more people in this initiative and to create a team with the same ideology and desire to work for the conservation of amphibians.
To improve our work with captive endangered species of amphibians and to train and develop more people in the team. We also are going to coordinate the work with the government, national and international conservation organisations that are interested in working with Bolivian amphibians.

Dr. Vikash Tatayah

Dr. Vikash Tatayah

Conservation Manager, Mauritian Wildlife Foundation

The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation (MWF) is the only non-governmental organization (NGO) in Mauritius to be exclusively concerned with the conservation and preservation of the nation's endangered plant and animal species. Their hands-on conservation projects are carried out in Mauritius including the offshore islets and Rodrigues. Vikash attended the DESMAN course in 2000.

This question has several replies! My formal involvement with Durrell goes back to at least 1997, when I joined the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation. Durrell was then the major funder of the MWF and funding almost all projects. Therefore, I worked closely with Carl Jones and John Hartley. However, speaking of Carl Jones, I first met him in 1995 when he co-supervised my undergraduate final year project on Madagascar Tenrecs (Centetes ecaudatus). However, the first seed was really sown in the very early 1980s when I watched ‘Ark on the Move’, and remember Gerald Durrell walking on Round Island. The connection to Durrell was sealed when I was fortunate to attend the DESMAN course in 2000, and since then Durrell Conservation Academy, Durrell and Jersey have a special meaning to me.
When I joined MWF in 1997, I became aware of Durrell Conservation Academy, mainly through John Hartley. But I had not thought that I would be fortunate enough to attend the DESMAN there in 2000.
I came from a very different background to conservation. I trained in agriculture and before joining MWF, was working in sugar cane research and the poultry industry! Although I gave my heart and soul to my job in MWF, Durrell was the real eye-opener to conservation. It made me realise the full dimension of what I was involved in. Training in Jersey has been a turning point in my career, so it means a lot to me. I encourage all young Mauritian staff to embark on an Durrell Conservation Academy course without hesitation, knowing it will be a cornerstone of their careers, just as much as it was in mine.
Meeting conservationists from all over the world, sharing their cultures, and knowing about their issues. Above all realising that we share the same problems, and have common wishes and visions for what we are seeking to preserve.
Sooo many! But the camaraderie between students, Durrell staff and locals at the Trinity Arms pub! (I hasten to add that I have never smoked or drunk, and it was truly the camaraderie that I enjoyed most!). At Durrell, it would be working on the Mammals section with Alaotran Gentle Lemurs.
Working harder still to save what’s the little left of our biodiversity. Taking conservation places, and convincing everyone that we need to do something now, or else it’s perhaps never.