Conan Dumenil, Head of the Education Arm at the Gerry Martin Project, tells us about the initiative ‘The Gerry Martin Project’ and the philosophy behind it.
What is the Gerry Martin project all about?
TGMP is a conservation entrepreneurship that works toward creating inclusive and sustainable conservation practices in India. We use education and experience to create and harness interest and support for various conservation endeavors across the country. In short, we are a link between scientists and conservationists in the field and enthusiasts in cities and towns who either don’t get the chance or the avenues to interact with the many people focused on working with wildlife and the environment.
What is your long term goal with this project?
Our long term goal is to bring about inclusive change. We are working hard to creating these avenues for change and for everyday folk to be involved in active conservation.
Who all are involved in it?
For now we are a small core team with specific skill sets ranging from herpetology and ornithology to mapping and public networking. In addition, we have a resource pool of people who step in and assist us with various specific tasks and endeavors.
What have been the major achievements (with respect to conservation) of the Gerry Martin Project?
We’re still work in progress. We now have a network of over a hundred organizations from around the country which are willing to improve on their protocols and practices. We will be working with them over the next few years to help in this endeavor.
Who all can join this project?
There are various levels by which you can engage yourself with us and it is open to everyone. You can get in touch with us to find the avenue that works best for you.
What inspired the inception of the Gerry Martin Project?
TGMP evolved out of years of working with people and wildlife. The biggest trigger was seeing amazing work being done out on the front-lines of wilderness areas and sanctuaries but not much being done in cities with folks who are not directly involved in conservation. This much touted battle to save the planet needs to be fought in our cities which we use the most and all too often, needs to be fought between us and ourselves!
TGMP wants to bridge the gap between wildlife conservationists or biologists and other folks so that the right information and intentions can meet with the growing population who want to make a positive difference.
Tell us about the workshops and expeditions you organize.
We lay a strong emphasis on education and curricula on our workshops are designed with a focus on experiential learning. Every workshop starts off with an objective which we aim to achieve. We then work backwards planning dialogues we need to have to achieve those objectives and then activities are designed so that we can then have those dialogues. Our workshops focus on various aspects of ecology ranging from herpetology foundation courses, large mammal and bird ecology to experiencing the uniqueness of a particular region like our rainforest ecology and island ecology workshops.
The expeditions on the other hand are now focused to better understand the snake bite scenario in India. They are opened up to participants so that they can be self-sustaining and enable our travel to various parts of the country, purchase equipment, collect venom and some subsequent lab work. These expeditions are an incredible opportunity to be part of something exclusive and learn aspects of field work that are not easily experienced.
Tell us about yourself.
I basically grew up in Chennai, and was fortunate to have open spaces around me. A lot of my free time as a child was spent exploring these spaces catching fish and garden lizards, climbing trees and making tree houses. My interest in nature and wildlife grew while I was in college and I had the opportunity to fuel that interest through activities on a well wooded campus as well as travel to a lot of natural spaces and reserves. I started my career as a naturalist with a wildlife lodge in Corbett National Park, where I stayed for three years. I also dabbled in the tourism and hospitality industry for three years before I started with TGMP.
What are your future plans with this project?
By the end of this year, we would have announced our conservation and research fund that will enable more people to work in wildlife. We would also have begun work on between one and three research and conservation field stations. There’s a lot of work to be done, not enough time to do it and certainly not enough people doing it.
To know more about them, visit their website.
Author: Mansi Bagga
Mansi Bagga is an MBA student, pursuing a course in Communication Management. She is a highly enthusiastic person, always willing to learn more and do more. She is an Indian by origin and a Thai citizen by virtue. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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