Right after his graduation in December, Bryce Mawhinney had the unique opportunity to travel to Nepal for a month. Working closely with Dave Johnson and The Katie Adamson Conservation Fund, Bryce had an adventure that few others will ever experience.
Bryce has always had an interest in wildlife conservation, but when he decided to pursue a career in business, he needed a way to reconnect to his passion. Bryce has known Dave for a long time and the organization that Dave created and runs was a great outlet for reconnecting. The Katie Adamson Conservation Fund (KACF) helps empower communities across the globe by way of education and funding. This effort raises the community both economically and educationally which has a trickle-down effect on the local wildlife. Because much of the efforts are focused on people, as a business major, this was of huge interest to Bryce.
Bryce was able to help the fund by transporting and delivering camera trapping equipment to contacts in Kathmandu. With the new equipment, he and Shivish Bhandari, set the traps in hills behind Kathmandu. Many pictures of wild boar, jungle cat, and sambar deer were exciting, but none more so than the photos they captured of leopard. The photos and GPS locations will be used in research of human-leopard conflict due to the close proximity of houses and communities.
During the trip, Bryce was able to meet and reconnect with KACF contacts while traversing the country. The KACF regularly sponsors trips Denver locals can take to different parts of the world. These trips are specifically designed to expose people to rare wildlife and the various communities living nearby. Tourism is a large part of many economies, so visiting the areas helps the people live sustainably.
Near Chitwan National Park, Bryce was able to personally hand over a $2,000 donation to the Chepang community to help with their beehive efforts. Beehives are a unique solution to a couple problems. The Chepang community has had a history of poaching one-horned rhinos to sell their horn. Without many other sources of income, members turn to the dangerous but lucrative activity of poaching. Beehives break that habit by introducing a sustainable and reliable source of income. Due to a low startup costs and easy maintenance, beehives are a great way to sell local honey in a legal and responsible way. The other thing beehives do is help keep away destructive wildlife. Local elephants love crops and of course don’t understand the impact destroyed crops may have on a family. However, elephants don’t like bees, and so beehives placed in a strategic manner can create a “fence” to help naturally keep elephant-human conflict to a minimum.
One of the park guides at Chitwan National Park, Doma Paudel, is President of their local anti-poaching force. Volunteer-based, her organization helps prevent and deter poachers looking to hunt rhino or tigers. As a well-known location for wildlife, most people at Chitwan see the importance of protecting the wildlife to keep the tourism industry strong. Doma has also created an organization that provides funding and aid to victims of human-wildlife conflict. As a victim herself, she recognizes the difficulties following a tragedy and has created this organization to help. Bryce was the first contact from the KACF to meet her in person and was able to pass on a small donation from the KACF as well.
Chitwan National park also has a local National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) office which researches and protects the local wildlife. They use elephants for poaching patrols and research, and Bryce was able to help take care of them. He made elephant “kuchis” which are sandwiches made from grass and rice and helped haul away the very heavy dung. The NTNC is also home to two orphaned rhino calves. One of them named Triveni was separated from his mother during intense floods and was rescued by the NTNC to protect him from tigers and other rhinos. The KACF sends funds to help support the baby rhinos so Bryce was able to capture photos and provide updates back to the state.
With tremendous support and collaboration from the KACF, Bryce was able to have an amazing experience and also give back to the communities on the other side of the globe. This trip has reaffirmed Bryce’s desire to create a career hinged on social and environmental impact by way of business.