WCS Graduate Scholarship Program: Clive Marsh Scholarships

Clive Marsh’s Conservation Legacy

Dr. Clive Willis Marsh’s association with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) began in 1971, with a New York Zoological Society grant for his dissertation field study of the highly endangered but little known Tana River red colobus monkey in Kenya, Africa. He subsequently worked for several other institutions (University of Cambridge, Yayasan Sabah/Innoprise Corporation and IUCN), with occasional support from WCS. Clive was a key player in establishing conservation areas at Tana River (Kenya), and Danum Valley and the Maliau Basin (Sabah, Malaysia). For the whole of his professional life, Clive worked closely with WCS staff, collaborating on joint programs and sharing visions and ideas.

Clive believed that science alone could not achieve conservation. In his devotion to increase conservation awareness and build local capacity for conservation work, Clive established the Malaysian Sabah Nature Clubs, which now operate at schools throughout Sabah. He also helped find training for young Malaysian field biologists. Working with Yayasan Sabah in Sabah, Clive helped to foster conservation within working production forests and encouraged young Malaysian students to undertake research and training on conservation issues.

In October 2000, Clive passed away due to the after-effects of encephalitis, contracted while working in the field in Laos. In honor of Clive’s immense contributions to conservation and his devotion to training and capacity building, especially in Southeast Asia, many of his colleagues, friends, and family contributed to an endowment fund (matched by The Christensen Fund) to support the Clive Marsh Conservation Grants for Field Training, administered by WCS as part of the Graduate Scholarship Program. Since 2008, thanks to the generous support of a donor, WCS has also been able to offer full Clive Marsh Conservation Scholarships for graduate studies.

Clive Marsh Conservation Scholarships

Candidates for the Clive Marsh Conservation Scholarships are young conservationists from Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam who demonstrate academic and professional promise, and whose graduate study plans address a key capacity building for conservation need in their home country. Clive Marsh scholars go through the same nomination and selection process as applicants for all other WCS scholarships.

Clive Marsh Conservation Grants for Field Training

Candidates for the Clive Marsh Conservation Grant for Field Training are young conservationists from Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam who have been selected to receive any WCS GSP scholarship to undertake graduate studies. The Clive Marsh Conservation Grants for Field Training are intended to provide support for graduate study field research costs (as the WCS graduate scholarship funds do not cover these expenses) or for follow-up field research once the scholar graduates and returns home.

First Clive Marsh Grant Recipient: Omaliss Keo

Omaliss Keo, from Cambodia, the first recipient of a Clive Marsh Conservation Grant for Field Training in 2006, was selected for a WCS Christensen Conservation Leaders Scholarship in 2002.

Omaliss’s research project for his PhD at the University of East Anglia in the UK, supported by WCS, focused on the ecology and conservation of the critically endangered giant ibis, Thaumatibis gigantea. Until recently, the giant ibis was known from only a handful of records since its first description in the early 20th century. Since then, its range across southern Indochina has shrunk dramatically due to habitat loss, leading to speculation that the species may be on the brink of total extinction (none are known to be in captivity). During his field research, supported by his Clive Marsh Conservation Grant for Field Training, Omaliss studied the habitat selection, feeding ecology and breeding biology of the giant ibis in the Northern Plains of Cambodia. He also investigated the effect of disturbance at critical feeding and breeding sites, which preliminary information indicated to be the greatest threat to the bird.

Omaliss is currently the Deputy Director of the Department for Wildlife and Biodiversity within the Wildlife Protection Office of the Cambodia Royal Government’s Forestry Administration.

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