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Elementor #17258

How did you end up in Malawi? After finishing my honours degree in Marine Biology I saw an opportunity to work with Lilongwe Wildlife Trust for a 3 month placement working with the primate rehabilitation team, I applied and joined the team in November 2014.  It helped my application that I had experience volunteering at […]

How did you end up in Malawi?

After finishing my honours degree in Marine Biology I saw an opportunity to work with Lilongwe Wildlife Trust for a 3 month placement working with the primate rehabilitation team, I applied and joined the team in November 2014.  It helped my application that I had experience volunteering at the SPCA as well as a local wildlife rehabilitation centre. 

 

 

What was your job at LWT?

I first began as a Primate Rehabilitation Assistant in which I assisted with the running of orphan care, stabilization of new intakes and integrations. Once orphan season was over, I was able to use my research experience gained in my undergraduate to attain the job of Research Assistant with Dr. Amanda Salb’s ‘One Health’ research, and I then joined Dr Salb’s Wildlife Emergency Response Unit as the Programmes Assistant. 

 

And today you’re working with cheetahs in Liwonde National Park!  Tell us about that.

Today I am working with African Parks and the Endangered Wildlife Trust as a Cheetah Monitor. This is part of the large carnivore restoration work that is being undertaken by African Parks in Liwonde National Park, in which cheetah lion and leopard are being reintroduced into the park.

 

Cheetah were wiped out of Malawi over 20-years ago, with only 7,000 individuals left in the wild worldwide, this reintroduction is extremely exciting and important. In my role as Cheetah Monitor, I ensure each individual is settling into their environment well, developing home ranges, hunting successfully and breeding. The information I gather in the field is then used to assist Park Management in decision making for Malawi’s only cheetah population.

 

What are the best bits about your job?

I am extremely fortunate in my position to be able to follow such a rare and beautiful animal around each day and to be able to assist in their conservation. However, the two best bits thus far have bee;  being able to watch the first two litters of cubs grow into successful adults and, being able to see the changes in the park ecosystem as large predators are returned.

 

And the worst?

I’ve been lucky to not have too many down days at my job in the two years I’ve been here. However, the rainy season is always hard, especially when you spend hours stuck in the mud without successfully finding any cheetahs.

 

What would your advice be to other would-be wildlife researchers?

 

 

My main advice to those seeking a career in wildlife biology is to remember that while a degree is valuable, experience is also incredibly important. If it wasn’t for the experience I gained while in my undergrad degree working with wildlife, I would have never had the opportunity to work for the LWT, which opened the door for where I am today. Furthermore, be open to different jobs and studying different species. While I always wanted to work with large carnivores, it was my work with primates at the LWT and the experience I gained there that eventually lead into the position I am in now. Finally, be aware that working with wildlife usually means long days, unusual hours, hard labour and little praise, that being said, being able to contribute to conservation of threatened species makes it all worth it!

 

Where do you hope to be in 5 years?

In 5 years, I hope that I am still contributing to conservation, whether it is gathering information to better inform the management of a population or species, or using research to inform the development/changes in policies, as long as I am still contributing to conservation in a meaningful way I will be happy with where I am.