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Linking minds, connecting lives

April 27 2019

#Expeditions #Conservation programs #Bird watching #GoBirding

Linking minds, connecting lives

She is now my sister’, Abidemi says to me. ‘And what about Anthony’ I ask, ‘is he also now part of the family?’ Everyone laughs! Scientists and conservationists alike are realising just how powerful it is to work together, and a group of scientists in Africa have experienced just that with the gorgeous Woodland Kingfisher.

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Linking three minds and connecting three lives. Abidemi Raji MSc is an ecologist from Nigeria who joined the Intra-African Bird Migration project for the 2018 West African field season in Ghana. The ‘she’ referred to is Abigail Ramudzuli, an ornithologist from South Africa working on an MSc thesis on flight feather moult patterns and stable isotope analysis in the Woodland Kingfisher, and Anthony Mba is a Ghanaian working on an MSc in Biodiversity, Wildlife and Ecosystem Health. A Nigerian, a South African and a Ghanaian brought together with one purpose, to study intra-African migrant birds like the Woodland Kingfisher – one of Africa’s most beautiful birds. Our adventures in Ghana took us to sites in Accra, Cape Coast and Damongo, but the true journey was one of the mind.

The future of ecological research is to be found in networking and collaboration. Gone are the days of ‘silo-ed’ research, where other researchers were viewed as direct competitors. The current research climate requires a broad collaborative perspective that capitalises on transdisciplinarity. We need to aim at a holistic approach to the complex ecological questions that we face in this era of globalisation. With environmental issues like wildlife population decline and extinction, habitat degradation and loss, and a changing climate, all being exacerbated by human population growth, expanding trade and exploitation routes, and pollution, science cannot be conducted as business as usual.

Nurturing young minds is an essential part of safeguarding our tomorrow. In this instance, the message is the age-old paradigm of ‘we are stronger together than apart’ [or alone]. It was my honour to strengthen this resolve with Abidemi, Abigail and Anthony as they continue their career journeys, but now as a family, a family of ecologists.

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We all, scientists and all nature enthusiasts alike, should strive for greater inclusivity in our perspectives. This in itself, at the very least, will serve to broaden our minds, and maybe, just maybe, connect us more with the minds and lives around us.

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About the author

Dr. Samuel Temidayo Osinubi is a postdoctoral fellow at the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. He is involved with intra-African bird migration research project, which is focused on species like the Woodland Kingfisher, African Pygmy Kingfisher and the Didric Cuckoo. This project takes a broad-scale look at bird species moving across southern, eastern and western Africa, and is made possible with the collaboration of different institutions and individuals from various research backgrounds.

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