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‘Manatee Man’, Jamal Galves, to study Coastal Science at University of California under WCS 2021 Conservation Leaders Scholarship

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Posted: Friday, October 8, 2021. 6:57 pm CST.

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: Jamal Galves, popularly known in Belize as ‘Manatee Man’, will be studying for a Master’s Degree in Coastal Science and Policy at the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) under a WCS 2021 Conservation Leaders Scholarship according to a statement from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

Galves received the 2021 WCS Christensen Conservation Leaders Scholarship, provided by the WCS Graduate Scholarship Program, and will be studying at the UCSC in Santa Cruz, California.

Galvez said his studies will be “directly connected to my interests as a guardian of the manatee population and the ecosystems that are vital to their survival in Belize.”

“Achieving this degree will better prepare me for the threats of unsustainable development and tourism activists that are threatening the survival of the endangered Antillean manatees.”

Galves sees the scholarship as an opportunity to widen his conservationist knowledge and network in order to better “safeguard Belize’s coastal ecosystems for the benefit of wildlife and human livelihoods”.

“We are very pleased to have the opportunity to support someone who is clearly a rising star in the conservation world, whose passion, dedication, and commitment to conservation is truly inspiring,” said WCS’s Senior Program Manager Kate Mastro in congratulating Galvez.

“I am beyond thrilled to have nominated Jamal for a WCS graduate scholarship. His labor of love to safeguard manatees has earned him this support,” said Nicole Auil Gomez, WCS Belize Country Director.

“Jamal is the second of two Belizean scholarship recipients for this globally competitive opportunity – Denise Garcia received a WCS scholarship in 2016.

“Jamal was employed straight out of high school, working with me on a manatee conservation program for the Gales Point Manatee Wildlife Sanctuary and nationally. His achievement is the culmination of nearly two decades of experience and personal development. He will do Belize proud at UCSC, and we can expect him to further positively impact Belize upon his return.”

According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, Galves credits his mentors such as his mother Shirelett Banner; and people like Kevin Andrew, Dr. James Powell, Dr. Robert Bonde, Imani Fairweather-Morrison, Angeline Valentine-Enriquez, and WCS Belize Country Director, Nicole Auil Gomez, for his development and love for protecting the environment, and especially the Antillean manatees.

The Coastal Science and Policy Master’s Program educates its candidates on “critical threats to social and ecological systems, respond to complex problems with effective, practical alternatives, and to confront institutions with innovative, interdisciplinary solutions” said the WCS.

For its part, the WCS Graduate Scholarship Program provides support to young conservation professionals in obtaining master’s degrees or PhDs at top-flight international academic institutions with the objective of building leadership capacity for wildlife conservation on a global scale.

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