Monday, April 15, 2024

‘Manatee Man’, Jamal Galves, is recipient of WCS 2021 Conservation Leaders Scholarship 


Photo credit WCS/Jamal Galves.

Jamal Galves, popularly known in Belize as ‘Manatee Man‘, is the recipient of the 2021 WCS Christensen Conservation Leaders Scholarship, provided by the WCS Graduate Scholarship Program. Jamal, whose career as a conservationist began when he was only 11 years old, is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Coastal Science and Policy at the University of California, Santa Cruz, United States. This, he says, “Is directly connected to my interests as a guardian of the manatee population and the ecosystems that are vital to their survival in Belize.”

He credits support from mentors such as his mother Shirelett Banner; and people like Kevin Andrewin, Dr. James Powell, Dr. Robert Bonde, Imani Fairweather-Morrison, Angeline Valentine-Enriquez, and WCS Belize Country Director, Nicole Auil Gomez, for his development and love for protecting the environment, and especially the Antillean manatees. Mrs. Auil Gomez was the one who nominated Jamal for the scholarship.

The Coastal Science and Policy Master’s Program aims to educate emerging coastal science and policy leaders to identify critical threats to social and ecological systems, respond to complex problems with effective, practical alternatives, and to confront institutions with innovative, interdisciplinary solutions.

Photo credit WCS/Jamal Galves.

Jamal explains that “Achieving this degree will better prepare me for the threats of unsustainable development and tourism activist that are threatening the survival of the endangered Antillean manatees.” He added that access to higher education and exposure to some of the world’s leading conservation experts will also provide him with significant networking opportunities that will help his effort to “safeguard Belize’s coastal ecosystems for the benefit of wildlife and human livelihoods”.

In congratulating Jamal on the award, the WCS’s Senior Program Manager, Learning and Leadership for Conservation, Kate Mastro says, “We are very pleased to have the opportunity to support someone who is clearly a rising star in the conservation world, whose passion, dedication and commitment to conservation is truly inspiring.”

Photo credit WCS/Jamal Galves.

Mrs. Auil Gomez exclaims, “I am beyond thrilled to have nominated Jamal for a WCS graduate scholarship. His labor of love to safeguard manatees has earned him this support. Jamal is the second of two Belizean scholarship recipients for this globally competitive opportunity – Denise Garcia received a WCS scholarship in 2016. Jamal was employed straight out of high school, working with me on a manatee conservation program for the Gales Point Manatee Wildlife Sanctuary and nationally. His achievement is the culmination of nearly two decades of experience and personal development. He will do Belize proud at UCSC, and we can expect him to further positively impact Belize upon his return.”

The WCS Graduate Scholarship Program is dedicated to building leadership capacity for wildlife conservation on a global scale, by providing support to young conservation professionals to obtain master’s degrees or PhDs at top-flight international academic institutions.


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