Patrick Moldowan has always loved lizards, frogs and anything else that, in his words, “creeps, crawls, slithers or slimes.” This year he's been selected to be Wildlife Preservation Canada’s “New Noah”.
Every year since 1990 the organization has selected one young Canadian biologist to participate in its “New Noah” scholarship program. The student is sponsored to study endangered species recovery as part of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust’s conservation program in Mauritius, an island near Madagascar. We caught up with him to talk about his experience so far.
How does it feel to be Canada’s “New Noah”?
It really is a great privilege to have been nominated and sent to Mauritius to represent Canada as the “New Noah,” to be able to bring back home the values and the teachings that I’ll get from this experience and apply them locally.
This is the first year the program is accredited. You’ll be walking away with a post-graduate diploma in endangered species recovery. What is your impression of the program?
The New Noah program is an incredible opportunity to really make a tangible difference and gain a lot of skills and, I think most importantly, hands-on experience. There’s absolutely no substitute for that. If you’re going to work in biology, field biology or conservation biology, you really need to get your feet wet and your hands dirty. There’s no other way to save species and habitat and understand them.
What have you been working on since beginning the program?
Last week was some work with pink pigeons.
ink pigeons, yes. It’s an endemic pigeon species here in Mauritius. So it’s been largely a mix of marking birds and tracking them to understand some fundamental aspects of their biology.
What will you bring back to Canada from this experience?
The threats faced by the species here in Mauritius aren’t all that different from those faced in Canada. So there’s a lot of great interdisciplinary information that can be transferred.
Any advice to aspiring biologists or ecologists?
If you enter a career in ecology or biology because you are passionate, you will be rich beyond belief, in knowledge, understanding and the gift of a curious mind. Don’t get into ecology or biology for the money because that is not the currency by which you will be paid. Do what you love and let your passion drive you — you will never work a day in your life.