Hi! Thanks for stopping by.
I’m excited that you want to know more about why I do what I do.
I happened to get an education which made me realize a couple of things that shaped my career pursuits:
- We don’t understand a lot about the biology of nature (wild plants and animals) in Nigeria
- Our ignorance is fueling a bad attitude towards our environment
For more on that, here’s that bonus story.
My ‘home’-coming story
I first learned about conservation towards the end of my undergraduate studies in Animal and Environmental Biology at the University of Benin, Benin-City, Nigeria. So after I ended the course, I joined a Bat Monitoring Club and counted city-roosting bats monthly. I also volunteered with the Ogba Zoo and Nature Park, Benin-City for a short while. In this period, I got to interact with people, and learn about their misconceptions about animals, and wild places in general.
Many people want to be entertained by wild animals (in zoos or on TV), but most people I encountered either didn’t care about what happens in wild places, were scared of wild places or were just concerned with how to take advantage of all the free resources in wild places.
That experience sparked in me a desire to communicate science so that people can understand and care about the issues being faced by wild animals in wild places. It also reinforced my interest in biological research, through which I could learn to discover amazing facts about nature.
After my involvement with the Zoo and Bat Club, I went home to Lagos to prepare for service in the National Youth Service Corps. It was while I was home that the incident happened which sealed my career path.
One day, I came back home from a short errand to find some neighbours in our compound gathered around a burning object, with a victorious air about them. My mum was there too, and when she saw me coming, she said to them, “Esther will not be happy about this”
It turned out that they had successfully captured a roosting owl, and burned it with fire. Why? It was a witchcraft bird. I wasn’t surprised: it’s a commonplace occurrence in Nigeria, but I was visibly upset. When they told me it was an owl, I just shook my head in disgust at their cruelty and ignorance, and walked away from them.
But one of them called me back because he really wanted to understand my annoyance. “If it is not a witchcraft bird, then why is it only at night that the bird flies?” It was then that I realized that his ignorance was not his fault. He had not studied biology in the university as I had. He had probably never heard the word ‘conservation’. He was merely trying to protect himself and his family. So, I went back and told him what I knew about the biology and night adaptation of owls and how letting them live and roost in our roofs might reduce the number of rats our compound was overrun with.
So during my master’s program in Conservation Biology about a year later, when I learned that ‘science communication’ is a thing, I knew I had my path cut out for me.
I work in a Biological Oceanography research department, so when I’m asking research questions these days, I’m generally interested in understanding bird ecology within the context of the coastal/marine environment. Learn more about my research here.
But when I write science stories, I’m interested in all things biological, even though I’ve mostly written about birds so far (that’s my happy place, I guess).
Here’s my CV, for what I’ve done so far.