Conservation Leadership student blends CSU expertise and local knowledge to solve human wildlife conflicts

Conservation Leadership master’s student Francis Sopia grew up amidst abundant wildlife in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. Growing up in a cattle-grazing community created an acute awareness of the conflict between human livelihoods and healthy wildlife populations. Forged from this conflict Sopia decided to devote his life to furthering community-based conservation efforts to ensure the preservation of both.

Advancing Conservation Learning and Success

Sopia’s interest in a Master of Conservation Leadership came about when he attended an early-career practitioner training at the Pathways Conference in Kenya in 2015. It was there that Sopia met Brett Bruyere, Conservation Leadership Academic Director and faculty in the Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, a part of the Warner College of Natural Resources.

Sopia believes that local and traditional knowledge is critical to solving the complex conservation issues that surround human and wildlife interaction, and further that conservation research in the Mara needs local perspectives and voices. Sopia intends to do just that, as he continues his work with local conservation agencies in the Mara.

Giving Back

Currently Sopia is finishing up his capstone project in Kenya and is eager to share the knowledge and training he is receiving from Colorado State University. In particular he hopes to inspire the youth and aspires to be a role model for future conservation leaders. Sopia’s studies have been funded, in part, by his community through a justgiving campaign, and he hopes to pour back into the communities that raised and continue to sustain him.