Shaping the Future of Female Conservationists in Tanzania

Supporting girls and women studying science is critical to promoting gender equity in conservation across the globe.

In Tanzania, the USAID Tuhifadhi Maliasili project – which translates to “Preserve Natural Resources” in Swahili – collaborates with conservation training institutions and civil society organizations to support youth, particularly young female students, to learn and gain field-based experience from conservation projects.

From December 2021 to January 2022, Irene Laizer secured a professional learning experience with the Southern Tanzania Elephant Program (STEP) through an internship program supported by the USAID Tuhifadhi Maliasili project. Irene is pursuing her Master of Science in Wildlife Management and Conservation at Sokoine University of Agriculture in Morogoro, Tanzania. 

“I learnt many things including how to use camera traps to monitor elephants’ movements,” described Irene. The internship trained her to “set camera traps, process the photos in ExifPro software, import data from ExifPro software to Microsoft Excel, and analyze temporal and spatial patterns of elephant visits to the village in search of water.” 

Irene is proud to be a Tanzanian woman in conservation: “I do not believe the myth that the sector requires a strong, brave, curious, and adventurous personality not likely to be found in women. On the contrary, women have the power to excel in any career aspirations.” Irene is confident that the practical experience she gained from the USAID-funded internship program will help her academically and position her to be more competitive in the employment market.

“I have been in the field where I got firsthand experience on the human-elephant interaction from people in my research area. I also explored and understood the community’s lifestyle and their perception toward sharing water sources with elephants, which I look forward to including in my final research report,” explains Irene.

The USAID Tuhifadhi Maliasili project continues to support youth from a variety of Tanzanian training institutions as they  acquire practical knowledge in biodiversity conservation, including the management of wildlife movement corridors and human-wildlife conflict, which are pressing conservation issues in Tanzania.