We are delighted to announce the panellists for the Future Voices Plenary Panel which will take place during the Conservation Optimism Summit 2019! Our five guests will discuss how they are working towards reframing the conservation narrative in their countries and their involvement with Conservation Optimism. 

Dr. Chen Pelf Nyok

Chen Pelf Nyok (via Skype)

Chen Pelf Nyok is a freshwater turtle researcher and conservationist. Her research interests are the biology and ecology of the river terrapins—a rare species of freshwater turtles only found in Southern Thailand, Cambodia and Peninsular Malaysia. In 2011, Pelf co-founded Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia (TCS), a non-profit and non-governmental organisation dedicated to freshwater turtle conservation in Malaysia.

Pelf conducts numerous Turtle Education Programmes with school students as well as Turtle Discovery Trips for members of the public. She currently leads the community-based terrapin conservation project in Kemaman, and was very recently awarded the Commonwealth Points of Light from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for the turtle conservation efforts. She is also a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group.

Munib Khanyari

Munib Khanyari is a PhD student at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science. He studies factors that affect ungulate populations at a landscape level, looking especially at the role of disease at the interface of livestock and wild ungulates.

Transmission of disease between livestock and wild ungulates is important as it can impact agricultural economics and wildlife conservation. Munib is combining  social and ecological knowledge to make sure his science can be applied, ensuring that conservation is aligned with local livelihoods. The mountains are his passion and the steppe an obsession.

Munib Khanyari
Olya E

Olya Esipova

Olya Esipova is the Project Coordinator of Saiga Conservation Alliance’s (SCA) Uzbekistan program, where she works with local communities to protect the critically endangered saiga antelope. Raised by a family of dedicated biologists, Olya learned at a young age to appreciate the remarkable beauty and value of the environment of Uzbekistan. She began volunteering with SCA as a teenager and her early community work led her to pursue a degree in Psychology from the University of New York in Prague.

She has been active in conservation leadership having been a delegate at the events such as Youth Forum for People and Wildlife and Global Youth Summit. She is a founding member of Youth for Wildlife Conservation, has received a Young Conservation Leadership Award, and has presented at Wildlife Conservation Network Expo’s, given a TEDx talk and more. Olya is currently working to complete her psychology degree and is designing a new conservation project in the Aral Sea region of Uzbekistan.

Elliot Newton

Elliot Newton is the Creative Director for A Focus on Nature (AFON), a voluntary led organisation that works to connect, inspire and support young conservationists from across the United Kingdom through mentoring opportunities regular workshops and events all with the aim to showcase some of the fantastic work that young people are achieving throughout the sector.

Elliot is the Head of Conservation at Citizen Zoo, an organisation which works to pioneer community led conservation initiatives, as he believes that with the right guidance and support anyone can be a successful conservationist. Citizen Zoo therefore strives to empower as many people and groups as possible, to enable them to make a significant and positive impact to their local environment. Elliot has a particular passion for the world’s most heavily trafficked wild mammal the pangolin, and runs the organisation People for Pangolins which supports grassroot pangolin conservation projects across the globe.

Elliot Newton

Caleb Ofori-Boateng

The first formally trained herpetologist in Ghana, Caleb was part of an expedition in 2005 which discovered a population of the Togo slippery frog after it had been considered extinct by scientists for 40 years.

Founder of the NGO, Herp Conservation Ghana, Caleb has worked tirelessly in the remote forests of the Togo-Volta Highlands to ensure this Critically Endangered amphibian’s protection ever since.

The plenary panel will be chaired by:

E.J. Milner-Gulland

E.J. Milner-Gulland has a particular interest in developing and applying methods for understanding and predicting human behaviour in the context of local resource use in developing countries, and improving the effectiveness of incentive-based mechanisms such as payment for ecosystems services and biodiversity offsetting, in the marine and terrestrial realms. She also works on the illegal wildlife trade and is interested in designing, monitoring and evaluating conservation interventions in order to improve their effectiveness.

She is passionate about the conservation ecology of the saiga antelope in Central Asia, and co-founded the Saiga Conservation Alliance in 2006. E.J. is also the Founding Director of Conservation Optimism, the Tasso-Leventis Professor of Biodiversity in the Zoology department at the University of Oxford and leads the Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science.

Photos (c) John Cairns