It is the 2nd year for the Armenian Society for the Protection of Birds to host a volunteer intern from the Corps and Birthright Armenia project. This year ASPB welcomed Kevork Babayan, a young and dedicated zoologist from Los Angeles, CA who completed his Bachelor program in Zoology at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Prior to travelling to Armenia Kevork has been involved in field research studying Bristle-thighed Curlew on the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and the federally endangered Puaiohi (Kaua'i Thrush) on the Hawaiian island of Kaua'i. His vivid interests in wild birds and in Armenia brought him to ASPB - BirdLife partner in Armenia where he continued his zoological work and enjoyed every field work in his ancestral land.
From his work in Armenia and at ASPB Kevork has gained a real-life understanding of how wildlife conservation works in Armenia and what it takes for a small but dedicated conservation NGO to plan, build conservation work and achieve its desirable goals. “What I can take away is a greater understanding of how a wildlife conservation NGO functions and implements its programs in a developing country, understanding the local political climate and resources available to carry out projects. None of what I learned and experienced would have been possible without the incredibly knowledgeable and passionate staff at ASPB”, he said.
During his four months of internship, Kevork has been very instrumental and his contribution to ASPB’s work has been truly significant: from drafting scientific species accounts for the organization’s website, compiling texts for a public brochure to promote birdwatching destinations of Armenia to the real field research in Armenia’s most remote places and rustic conditions. Kevork has been placed for two weeks to carry out field monitoring of wild birds in the Ararat Valley and has produced valuable data which will be used to update the existing national bird database. “What I enjoyed most was learning about the ecology of the bird life in Armenia, which even sometimes differed within the same species occurring in other parts of the Western Palearctic“, he said.
When asked a question about what advice he would give to future interns, he replied: “Come with an open mind and be ready to learn from every experience.”
We hope that Kevork’s working experience at ASPB will give him more credibility to pursue even more ambitious scientific projects, help him build a successful career and maintain his dedication to the science of Zoology and of course to the wild birds!