The exploits of Griffith University alumni continue to amaze.
In the west African nation of Ghana, the tiny village of Yawkrom (population 500) recently made PhD graduate Dr Kerry Kriger a chief.
He was given the official name Nana Kojo Agyeman Bosompem Nkosuohene the First, which translates to Elder, Born on Monday, He Who Fought for the Town, Great Deity, Development Chief.
The Executive Director of leading international amphibian conservation group SAVE THE FROGS!, Dr Kriger’s title was bestowed after a seven-hour ceremony complete with singing, drumming, presentations and his personal pledge to help the environment and the development of the local community.
His colleague and friend, Ghanaian amphibian biologist Gilbert Adum, received the same honour, thus acknowledging the work they have done since establishing a branch of SAVE THE FROGS! in Ghana in 2011.
As well as raising amphibian awareness throughout a country with around 85 important species — many of them threatened — Dr Kriger and Mr Adum are also helping to improve health, education and community outcomes through initiatives such as beekeeping, new wells, modern sanitary facilities and other environmental projects.
Dr Kriger’s interest in frogs began as a child growing up in the US state of Virginia where his parents built a pond on their property.
However, he credits his time at Griffith University for “filling me with frog knowledge” and fuelling the commitment behind SAVE THE FROGS!
“When we save the frogs, we’re protecting all our wildlife, all our ecosystems and all humans,” says Dr Kriger.
“There’s always more to be done, but I feel the message is getting through. So far we’ve had supporters participate in educational events in 87 countries.”
Dr Kriger held a Bachelor of Science (Mechanical Engineering) from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville when he came to Griffith University.
“During my travels I had seen a lot of environmental destruction around the world and I wanted to make a difference beyond what I could achieve with my initial degree,” he says.
“I went online and discovered some of the work that Griffith’s Associate Professor Jean-Marc Hero had been doing in the fields of environmental conservation, biodiversity and amphibian research and it really spurred me on.”
Having completed his PhD in Environmental Sciences at Griffith’s Gold Coast campus in 2007, Dr Kriger has since built a formidable international reputation for his expertise, dedication and campaigns.
Along with starting the annual Save The Frogs Day, the world’s largest day of amphibian education and conservation action, his conservation efforts also have been supported by the National Geographic Society, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, Patagonia, and various philanthropic organisations.
If all that wasn’t enough to keep this inveterate traveller busy, he is also an experienced mountaineer and a talented photographer and musician.
And now he can add African chief to his list of credentials.
“It did come as a surprise, but it shows that the work we are doing with SAVE THE FROGS! is making a difference.”
To read Dr Kriger’s personal account of being made an African chief, click here: