José and ProCAT Win Prestigious Colombian Award
FFN Award winner of 2015 José González-Maya sent us an exciting blog update! Read more below:
Dedicating your life to conservation is a long journey that requires sacrifice, patience, resilience, collaborative work and most of all, love. Ten years ago, together with an amazing group of people, we started a small NGO that focused on saving as many species as possible in one of the most amazing megadiverse countries in the world: Colombia. We founded ProCAT Colombia as a naïve dream of biologists, with the incredible support of one economist and two investment bankers, always wanting to do more and more for this incredible country. It was not easy of course, but it was a challenge that we were facing with as much passion as possible and which, even on the hardest times, was always worth it to keep trying. After ten years we have worked in almost all regions of Colombia, we have trained hundreds of conservation biologists, worked with tens of public institutions, and we still work every day to make this a better world for people and biodiversity.
‘ After ten years we have worked in almost all regions of Colombia, we have trained hundreds of conservation biologists, worked with tens of public institutions, and we still work every day to make this a better world for people and biodiversity.’ – José González-Maya
Start of ProCAT with Science and a Mission
We started ProCAT as a mean to develop conservation projects that were urgently needed, focusing on conservation challenges across the region which were for many reasons not being adequately addressed. We started working with local communities, doing the first studies with camera-traps in the country and addressing small conservation problems that with our efforts we felt could have significant conservation impact. Usually with very scarce resources, we thrived to keep this dream alive and make ProCAT a conservation organisation that through example could make the best possible science and bring this science to decision-making and conservation action. As a team, and as a person, we have been working untiringly to keep up with that mission and improve our actions and long-term impacts; I feel proud to say that we have kept fulfilling our mission and maintained our original values and goals and that even when things are different today, we still believe in this dream.
Recent Recognition for the Hard Work
But today, I feel prouder than ever. Not only do we feel our work is having a significant impact on Colombian biodiversity, we are now being recognized by colleagues as a reliable source of information and conservation action in our country… not always an easy task, but for sure a recognition that encourages us to keep doing our work with the passion and dedication we have shown in the last ten years. During the closure ceremony of the V Colombian Congress of Zoology and the III Colombian Mammalogy Congress, we were awarded two of the most prestigious awards in our country: ProCAT Colombia received the Merit Order for Institutional Trajectory on the Research and Conservation of the Natural Patrimony of Colombia from the Colombian Zoology Society and I got awarded the Jorge Ignacio “Mono” Hernández mammal conservation award from the Colombian Mammalogical Society. The Colombian Zoology Society is the largest professional association in the country, encompassing all zoological groups that with the 3000 participants of the Colombian Zoology Congress make it the most recognized association in our field in the country. The Colombian Mammalogy Society is the most important association of researchers and practitioners around mammals in the country and it brings science and conservation to the national reality; Jorge Ignacio “Mono” Hernández was the most renowned naturalist that Colombia has ever had, father of most of our National Protected Areas and one of the most erudite mammalogists of our country.
These awards recognize our years of work and dedication and are the encouragement that keeps us working for a better future. This is for sure not the end of this trip, this is just a fantastic step in the road to keep fighting for our biodiversity.