In the latest instalment in our series of staff Q&As, we ask Faustinato Behivoke, Assistant Conservation Coordinator, some searching questions about science, conservation and superpowers…
What is your academic/professional background?
I have an MSc in Marine Sciences specialising in Marine Biodiversity and Environmental Management, after which, I completed my DEA (Diplome d’Etudes Approfondie) in Biological Oceanography at the IHSM in Toliara, Madagascar.
Why do you do what you do?
Effectively, living in Toliara, I grew up with the sea, and have consequently always had a passion for the marine environment. Any chance I get, since childhood, I love to go free-diving.
In terms of work, it is evident to me that in this region of Madagascar, a vast number of people depend on fishing as their primary income, and there is a serious need for better management of marine and natural resources in general. Therefore, I do what I do in order to help the fishing and coastal communities here manage their marine resources more sustainably so that these environments can continue providing for future generations.
What is the best/worst thing about being an Assistant Conservation Coordinator.
Working across projects is the best thing about my job because I get to broaden my knowledge and diversify my experience, working with a wide range of hugely dedicated people.
The worst thing about my job is that I usually have to work weekends because I work closely with the Velondriake Committee, many of whom are teachers, and are therefore only free on weekends. I am based in Toliara, so this means a 7 hour drive to and from Andavadoaka each time… However, the silver lining is that it does mean I get to spend some of my weekends in Andavadoaka and witness the beautiful sunsets on the beach at the end of the working day!
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Overall, I love planning activities on a large scale and being able to see the big picture and progression towards our goals.
I also really enjoy being in the field and talking to fishers here in Velondriake, as they always see things from a slightly different perspective. Talking to people in our partner communities is a huge part of my job and is so important as often they will raise points and issues about conservation that have not previously been considered.
What is your favourite species and why?
I think Butterfly fish because they are so colourful and fantastic to see during scuba diving and they are also a sign that the reef is in good health.
What would your scientific superpower be?
I would like to have the power to stabilise the advancing sand dunes, which threaten to increase sedimentation of mangrove, lagoon and seagrass environments in the southwest of Madagascar.
What is one of the strangest things that has happened to you while working in conservation?
The strangest thing that happens to me quite regularly is hearing fishers’ stories of extra-terrestrial style marine species, which may or may not exist depending on who you talk to…