BirdLife: The Magazine Apr-Jun 2018 - Page 54

meet the partner P A R T N E R P R O F I L E Colombia While armed conflict in Colombia may be over, an influx of illegal miners and loggers means our newest Partner’s collaborative approach to conservation has never been more important Alex Dale n Colombia, connections are everything. Especially when you’re working in some of the world’s most isolated regions. The unique animals that inhabit this richly biodiverse country love remote and inaccessible places as much as rebel groups did. Knowing the locals and working with them has always been a necessity in order to carry out any fieldwork safely. After all, no birder would want to be seen wearing binoculars and camouflage clothing in the middle of a warzone. “If we followed the official advice, most areas we wanted to work in would have been considered conflict zones at one point or I 54 Piangua fishers of the Esfuerzo Pescador Community Council, in the department of Nariño Photo Calidris 0 another,” says Jessica Suárez, Communications Coordinator at Asociación Calidris (BirdLife in Colombia). “But sometimes nothing is actually happening in these areas, it’s more a general security warning. This is why locals have always been our powerful allies. They tell us whether it’s really okay to come in or not. Without their support, we wouldn’t be able to do our work.” Twenty-five years ago, in the middle of the ongoing turmoil, a group of biologists decided to found a non-governmental organisation in Santiago de Cali, southwest Colombia. In the beginning, their goal was simple enough: to monitor and study shorebirds during their birdlife • apr-jun 2018