Dr Amy Dickman
My life-changing book would be The Cry of the Kalahari which I found on a hostel bookshelf whilst travelling in South Africa. Written by Delia Owens, it is an autobiographical book detailing two young American zoologists, and their experience studying wildlife in the Kalahari desert in Botswana in the mid-1970s. I was this totally inspired by this couple and their passion for wilderness, leading to them setting up an elephant conservation project. Later, in Namibia, four of us decided to repeat the journey and retrace their steps following only the tiny map at back of book. From a navigational perspective the map was hopeless, and we missed the side road - and the Kalahari - altogether! However, eventually we did find the road and had great adventure. My overriding memory is how cold the desert is at nighttime – and I definitely learnt not to trust in one of those little maps again!
Dr Amy Dickman is the Kaplan Senior Research Fellow in Wild Cat Conservation at Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU). She has achieved vital conservation successes in one of Africa’s most important landscapes for large carnivores, the Ruaha Landscape, which supports nearly 10% of the world’s remaining lions. Amy has worked in Africa for over 20 years specialising in human-carnivore conflict and community-based conservation. She worked at the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia until 2005 and then moved to Tanzania, where she studied for her MSc and PhD, establishing the Ruaha Carnivore Project in 2009. She is a member of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group, the IUCN Steering Committee on Human-Wildlife Conflict, the African Lion Working Group and is a National Geographic Explorer. Amy has published over 80 papers and book chapters on large carnivore conservatio, with a particular focus on understanding and mitigating human-carnivore conflict, and received multiple awards for her work.
At the Ruaha Carnivore Project we developed a storybook about a boy called Darem from the Barabaig tribe, showing how he works with the project to help protect lions and other carnivores, thereby empowering his local community. With text in both English and Swahili, the book has been distributed to schools and families around Ruaha and beyond, raising awareness of RCP’s work to conserve carnivores in partnership with local communities. It will be of particular significance to local people from the Barabaig tribe, who are often marginalized and, to our knowledge, have never been featured in a storybook. Written by Project Director Dr Amy Dickman, with beautiful illustrations by Kayla Harren, this is a heart-warming tale about a boy who loves lions which will enchant readers of all ages everywhere.