Wildlife Conservation for the Developing World We are delighted to announce the launch of a new Postgraduate Diploma in International Wildlife Conservation Practice. The programme, with a special focus on wild felids, is now being piloted and will launch officially at the start of 2009. This Diploma will equip conservation practitioners with the necessary scientific and professional skills to make a significant contribution to biodiversity conservation in developing countries and strengthen those countries’ capacity for wildlife management. A generous donation from the Panthera Foundation via its Chairman, Dr Thomas Kaplan (Oxford alumnus), to Professor David Macdonald, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), has enabled the University to offer a number of fully-funded scholarships for conservation practitioners from developing countries to undertake the Diploma, accessing rigorous practical and professional education that is not available in their home countries. The pilot group includes dedicated biologists spanning expertise on tigers in China to leopards in Iran, lions in Tanzania and lynx in the Balkans – each wrestling with huge conservation challenges. David Macdonald said, "This new diploma will not only make a great contribution to building conservation capacity in parts of the world where action is urgently needed on the ground - it will be a milestone in opening access to Oxford." He added "Our focus on big cats will take the students to the heart of the most challenging conservation issues, and the new course will lead to the creation of a worldwide force of expert problem-solvers who can take their training home and pass it on to others." WildCRU, based at Tubney House and part of the Oxford University Department of Zoology, has come together with the Department for Continuing Education, via its Continuing Professional Development Centre, to create the joint Postgraduate Diploma, which will enable conservationists to monitor biodiversity, implement conservation actions, and engage with stakeholders ranging from local communities to national governments and international donor organizations. The focus on wild felids is particularly revealing as these animals (from charismatic big cats to rarely seen small ones) are emblematic and umbrella species for whole ecosystems. This programme is aligned with Continuing Education’s growing number of global- education initiatives for the developing world, particularly in the environmental, health and medical sciences. The goal here will be to produce highly-knowledgeable and highly-skilled practitioners, especially in the conservation of mammals and their habitats, using members of the wild cat family (Felidae) in particular as a representative taxonomic group able to indicate the health of ecosystems, including the large number of other species present within those ecosystems. The range, complexity and inter- relatedness of global conservation issues – especially illustrated by large predators – present immense challenges; this initiative will undoubtedly make a practical difference where it counts. ENDS Notes to Editors: For further information contact Lucy Tallents, email: Lucy.email@example.com The International Wildlife Conservation Practice Programme is a joint programme of study offered by the Department for Continuing Education (http://www.conted.ox.ac.uk), via its Continuing Professional Development Centre, and the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, WildCRU (www.wildCRU.org), which is part of the Department of Zoology (http://www.zoo.ox.ac.uk). WildCRU aims to achieve practical solutions to conservation problems through the translation of world-class original scientific research into practice, and a commitment to train conservation scientists to conduct such research. (http://www.wildcru.org/) The Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Centre offers world-class flexible professionally-orientated postgraduate education and professional development. The CPD Centre offers a variety of workshops, seminars, short courses, certificates, diplomas and master’s degrees as well as online courses across a wide range of disciplines (http://cpd.conted.ox.ac.uk/). The Panthera Foundation saves in-situ populations of wild cats and the landscapes they inhabit in all regions of the world by collaborating with, supporting and fostering the world’s leading wild-felid conservationists in conducting rigorous scientific research, planning and implementing conservation actions, and working with local, national and international stakeholders to advance wild cat conservation (http://panthera.org/).
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