Cameroon rainforest park ranger Robinson Orume “falls in love” with James Cook University and Cairns
When Cameroon park ranger and rainforest conservation advocate Robinson Orume had to choose between scholarship studies at Cambridge University in England or James Cook University in Queensland, the answer was simple.
The Australia Awards recipient chose James Cook University because its tropical North Queensland location and Master of Science degree in Protected Areas Management was the perfect combination for him.
Robinson commenced his studies at the university's Cairns campus near the Great Barrier Reef in 2015. He said "James Cook University was the only university with a tropical forest environment like where I came from. I immediately fell in love with the tropical rainforest environment, and the 'small is beautiful' nature of Cairns city."
"Above all, I am very comfortable at the Cairns campus as I am in the midst of big names in the tropical rainforest conservation discipline such as James Cook University's Distinguished Research Professor Bill (William) Laurance
Coming from a small community in Cameroon's Korup National Park, Robinson has a passion for sustainable tropical rainforest conservation that preserves native wildlife and also supports local people's livelihoods.
"The Korup National Park is one of the oldest and most species-diverse rainforest regions in Africa. Because my family comes from a rainforest-dependent community, I have experienced daily the challenges of conservation amidst human hardships and resource limitations.
Robinson has more than 10 years’ experience in tropical forest management in Cameroon, starting as a volunteer park ranger in the Konup National Park in 2003 and joining the Park's management staff in 2006. Since then, he has been involved in ecological research, tourism management, law enforcement and general administration.
His interest in wildlife and empathy for local forest communities also led him into civil society activism in 2009, when he started the Korup Rainforest Conservation Society
. "I have put all my energy into mobilising local and external support to save wildlife and improve the livelihoods of people who experience the conservation burden in the National Park and its environs,” he said.
The Australia Awards scholarship made it possible for him to study at James Cook University. "Coming from a less privileged family I could not afford such studies and had to depend on a scholarship. Fortunately, the Australia Awards was just a perfect opportunity to achieve my career goals."
When he returns to Cameroon, Robinson hopes to obtain seed funding to improve grassroots conservation activities involving women and underprivileged communities.