This past July, the 55th annual meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC) took place in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia. The conference was attended by more than 900 delegates from 65 countries, and included 12 pre- and post-conference workshops, 2 panel discussions, 6 keynote presentations, 35 symposia, 50 general oral sessions and 2 poster sessions. The theme of the conference this year was “Linking Natural History and the Conservation of Tomorrow’s Tropical Ecosystems”. Naturally much of the content concerned conservation issues mostly relevant to the tropics, however, several symposia addressed more general subjects such as citizen science (applicable anywhere). This was the reason I traveled to the conference – to present some ideas concerning the use of social media as a platform for citizen science and conservation, based on a Facebook group called “Herpetology – Israel” that was founded in July 2017 by Assaf Uzan, Alex Slavenko and myself, and about which we wrote together with Dr Yuval Itescu.
Besides the interesting presentations and posters, it was a pleasure meeting researchers and conservationists from such varied countries and disciplines and, evidently, the ATBC community is a warm and welcoming one, open to anyone interested in conservation in the tropics. It was particularly impressive to witness the attention devoted by the ATBC community not only to research and conservation, but also to issues such as inclusion of local communities in the aforementioned; respect for different cultures and ethnic groups; gender equality etc.
Kuching is beautiful and at the end of each day I had a lot of fun exploring the city both geographically and gastronomically, together with other ATBC delegates.
I thank the Israeli Chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology, as well as the National Natural History Collections of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel for generously helping to make my journey possible.