The Future Leaders of Amphibian Conservation program is an award to a number of early-career conservationists from around the world that have been identified by the Amphibian Survival Alliance as the next generation of amphibian conservationists. So far we have awarded 19 Future Leaders from 12 countries (Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Ghana, South Africa, Uganda, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Australia and United States). You can learn more about some of the Future Leaders of Amphibian Conservation here.

By Esther Matthew, Ruhan Verster & Ché Weldon. The Endangered Wildlife Trust. 

 Esther Matthew grew up in central South Africa and became fascinated with nature and animals at a very young age. Following High school, Esther pursued degrees in Zoology, Physiology, Biodiversity and Con- servation Ecology. In 2015, Esther became an ASA Future Leader of Amphibian Conservation and in the same year she completed her M.Sc. in Environmental Science, through the North-West University. As part of her studies, she successfully raised and trained a scent detection dog to locate Giant African Bullfrogs (Pyxicephalus adspersus) underground. In January 2021, a paper on this research component of the project was accepted and published by the Journal of Vertebrate Biology (Click here to view article).

The project ignited Esther’s interest in training canines for conservation and research. As a result, Esther pursued additional training with national and international professionals in the canine behavior and scent detection fields. Esther joined the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Drylands Conservation Program (EWT-DCP) in 2016 and is currently working as their Specialist Conservation Officer, focusing on in situ Endangered species conservation and research. Esther also has a passion for sharing conservation knowledge. As such she works closely with learners students from local schools, taking them into the field to teach them about nature through environmental education. Esther also coordinates the program’s volunteer project, aimed at exposing young career conservationists to field work in the Karoo.

Esther became a National Geographic Society Explorer in 2018 and is a highly dedicated and motivated conservationist. She aims to become one of the leaders in conservation canine research, because she is passionate about dog training, wildlife conservation, and research. She has an aptitude for the application of novel approaches in her work. Her enthusiasm and drive motivates other team members and her strong foundation in conservation biology allows her to lead by example.