My name is Elea and I would like to tell you about my incredible experience within ABConservation. I study Biology and Ecology and wish to work for the preservation and protection of wildlife. I just finished my Bachelor’s degree in that field and during my last year studying, I had the great pleasure of being offered an internship at ABConservation to work with Agathe, the co-president and scientific officer of the association. I joined her for one month, from mid-March to mid-April 2019, in Palawan (Philippines).
On this island, as you probably already know, the association has launched the Bearcat Study Program. After a two-year study in Langogan, on the East coast of the island, a new site was selected in El Nido, in the North. My job was first to prepare the field study by developing a camera trapping protocol, in order to assess the animal biodiversity of this area and to get confirmation of the presence of bearcats. Agathe was there to answer my questions and to guide me in that exercise.
At the same time, I was able to tag along with her when she went to various communication and awareness events about bearcats in a school in Langogan and in local markets. I enjoyed these events a lot and it was great to meet the children, to see how attentive they were to the speech on the bearcat. They actively participated in the offered activities and left with more knowledge on this animal: mission accomplished.
During my last week of internship, we went to El Nido to install camera traps on the new study site. This is a large plot of tropical secondary forest located around a primary forest core, it is wonderful. With the help of guides, we completed a first morning of study site recognition: we took the GPS coordinates of the limits of the area we had access to, and spotted the strategic points. We came back the following day to set up some of the cameras and then spent the night in hammocks in this splendid forest. That was relaxing and allowed us to forget about the rest of the world, to simply enjoy the moment. We finished to set up the cameras the next day. I really loved being in the field, that was… awesome ! Besides, Agathe has found some bearcat feces on branches of a tree in which she was installing a camera, this is a very good sign. I can’t wait to see the pictures, once the data from cameras is retrieved.
I was also able to follow all the work Agathe is undertaking: preparing events for the binturong day in Palawan (finding sponsors, activities and games/contests about the bearcats and the environment, prizes for the winners..), field studies and data analysis (camera trapping), writing up articles, collaborating with partners of the organization… So I discovered the job of a researcher, all its aspects, and what it means to work for the preservation of a species. On top of that, Agathe also introduced me to Palawan and its culture, its beautiful places, its inhabitants… I not only fell in love with the binturong, but also with Palawan, haha, its landscapes are more than gorgeous.
Upon my return to France, I made a stop in Paris to meet Pauline, founder and co-president of ABConservation. These two young women, Pauline and Agathe, are absolutely lovely and show incomparable kindness. It has been a real pleasure to meet and exchange with them. They are passionate, committed, and their career paths are inspiring. I admire both of them.
This internship has taught me a lot, as much on the professional side as the personal side. Indeed, I learned a lot on bearcats – an animal I only knew by name before – and I’ve developed a genuine interest for this cute little creature and its preservation. Its fate matters to me, I’m really glad I’ve met ABConservation and I am impressed by their work. I’m also proud to have been able to participate in it a little and wish to contribute again later on.
I hope you enjoyed this summary and thank you for reading.