Dirck Byler

Dirck Byler

Great Ape Conservation Director

Education

M.S.E.S. School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University
M.P.A. School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University
B.A. Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington

Dirck focuses on the conservation of great ape species world wide through his position as Vice Chair for the Section on Great Apes of the IUCN’s Primate Specialist Group.   Dirck’s time is spent on developing collaborations and capacity within the great ape community to counter threats from habitat destruction, illegal bushmeat hunting, wildlife diseases such as ebola, and the illegal trade in live apes and their parts. This includes working with partners to achieve consensus on priority sites, actions, and best practices for the conservation of gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, and orangutans.  Dirck also works with multilateral lending banks, governments, and industry to protect great apes, particularly in regards to avoiding and mitigating the impacts of energy and extractive industries on great ape habitat.

Dirck previously led the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Africa branch for four years, overseeing a grants and technical assistance program supporting great ape, elephant, rhinoceros, and marine turtle conservation.  Prior to that Dirck was the program officer for the Great Ape Conservation Fund (Africa species) for eight years and provided oversight and technical support for great ape projects throughout Africa.  Dirck has also held positions with the USFWS National Wildlife Refuge System, Conservation International, the U.S. Embassy in Liberia, the Nature Conservancy, and the World Food Program in Lesotho as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Growing up in the foothills of the Cascades mountains gave Dirck an early appreciation for nature. He believes in the importance of partnerships to bring diverse interests together to saving species.  His approach is based on the belief that evidence based learning models are essential to conservation success and is a strong believer in the use of multidisciplinary team approaches to capacity development. Dirck also believes in the importance of long-term financing mechanisms to ensure conservation is sustained, particularly in areas of conflict or instability where slowly reproducing species such as great apes are at most risk.  Dirck is an avid backpacker and runner and enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife and two children.