It was sometime in May this year that Elyza Tan received a peculiar email. You got the chance to meet Tan as the featured staff on our 2019 Third Quarter Newsletter. That email contained the good news, confirming that Tan was selected as one of the six awardees of the 2019 Chester Zoo William Oliver Philippine Champion Award, the first of its kind grant given to Filipino conservationists engaged in biodiversity conservation.

Tan attended a three-week conservation skills training from October 9 to October 30, with Chester Zoo, in Cheshire, England as the workshop site, with all expenses, from travel, food, and accommodation shouldered by the said zoo, one of largest zoos in the United Kingdom.

Tan presenting her project at her training in Chester Zoo

Tan is currently a Project Development and Resource Officer whose primary duty includes project proposal preparations to be submitted to grant or funding entities to sustain MBCFI’s organizational projects. Her responsibilities also require her to assist in achieving the different targets of one of the three core programs of MBCFI like site profiling and conservation management planning for key biodiversity areas in the island of Mindoro.

In one of her expeditions in the hinterland of Mt. Guimparay in Naujan, which is also part of the Mt. Halcon mountain range, she had a close encounter with Mindoro’s endangered mammal, the Tamaraw (Bubalus mindorensis). Seeing a Tamaraw at close range was an experience that every Filipino conservationist would always dream of, said Elyza.

Her passion for Tamaraws made her decide to write a proposal for the Chester Zoo William Oliver Philippine Champion Award. The project is a two-year conservation project in the Philippines dealing with the Tamaraws.

While in the UK together with the other young Filipino attendees, trainors from Chester zoo introduced them to various capacity skills that delved on multi-disciplinary approaches like project design theory, conservation planning process, budgeting, presentation skills, leadership, and management courses.

The trainors also stressed the importance of strengthening conservation networks within the Philippines by promoting collaboration among the project implementors that will be of vital use in stakeholder engagement.

The Chester Zoo William Oliver Philippine Champion Award 2019 honors the legacy of William Oliver (1947 – 2014), a British conservationist and a dedicated champion for the wildlife of the Philippines for more than two decades.   This year’s awards aim to financially and technically support six conservation projects in the Philippines that will have positive conservation impact for target species.

The other awardees were Al John Cabanas of the University of the Philippines Los Banos (MS Wildlife Studies) who will conduct population estimate of Philippine warty pigs; Charles Christian Carino of Silliman University (BS Computer Science), proposed study overview: Developing an automatic bat detection counter using video; Kim Casipe of  Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation Inc. ( Feasibility of Danjugan Island as potential release site for the Negros Bleeding Heart); Jay Fidelino  University of the Philippines Diliman (BS Biology), (Habitat preferences of the endangered Dinagat Moonrat and Dinagat Hairy-tailed Rat); Justin Magbanua of  Talarak Foundation Inc. (Prevalence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in populations of the Negros Cave Frog (Platymantis spelaeus) in Negros Island).

Tan is very enthusiastic and positive that with her academic background, support from her family, and MBCFI, coupled with her “One day at a time” personal motto, she will be able to accomplish the project for the future of the Tamaraw.