Imthiaz Sheik Abbass
Born and raised in Mauritius, an island with a fragmented and vulnerable environmental legacy, Imthiaz developed an awareness and fascination for wildlife and environmental protection from an early age. He sought to explore this further through his studies at the University of Mauritius by pursuing a BSc (Hons) in Biological Sciences. To garner hands-on experience during his studies, Imthiaz interned with the National Park & Conservation Services (NPCS) in Mauritius, whereby he was exposed to key aspects of conservation such as animal husbandry and community involvement in conservation efforts. He was afforded the opportunity to work on projects at the Gerard Durrell Endemic Wildlife Sanctuary and Rivulet Terre Rouge Estuary Bird Sanctuary, that allowed him to hone his interest in ecological interaction and invasive alien species. He further explored these concepts during his final year thesis, titled “The ecology of Red-Whiskered Bulbul, Pycnotus jocosus, at selected sites and implication for conservation,” involving the investigation of the feeding ecology of the alien Red-Whiskered Bulbul to determine its potential as a seed disperser for native plants in Mauritius.
After graduation, Imthiaz undertook a four months’ traineeship at the Mauritius Herbarium to better understand the diversity of the Mauritian flora following which he worked for a year at Vallée d’Osterlog Endemic Garden Foundation whereby he was responsible for forest restoration and conservation awareness. He also led expeditions to some of the outer islets nature reserves of Mauritius for weeding of alien species, propagation of threatened native plants and monitoring of native flora and fauna. In his spare time, Imthiaz volunteered with various environmental organisations and engaged actively in environmental awareness initiatives such urban space green restoration programmes and clean up campaigns for natural bat roosting sites. Imthiaz is currently employed as Forest Conservation and Enforcement Officer at the Forestry Service in Mauritius where he is responsible for environmental law enforcement and forest restoration. He hopes that his enrolment in the Conservation Biology course at the Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology will enable him to obtain new knowledge and skills that will positively impact his contribution to conservation in Mauritius. He is also excited to learn about conservation in Southern Africa and looks forward to discovering the amazing biodiversity hotspot that is the Cape Floral Kingdom.