From an early age I have been intrigued by the natural world. My love of African wildlife and the continent they live on has shaped the person I am today and in turn the direction my professional career has taken. I have been in international conservation for nineteen years which has been a combination of in situ and ex situ work. I aim to use robust scientific research to create practical management solutions & strategies for governments in order to conserve species. I believe that collaboration is key to achieving this aim, the strength of a committed network cannot be underestimated so I am excited to be a part of this one, especially as I wait in the UK for the time when I can return to Namibia!
In 2017 I set up my own consultancy, LRC Wildlife Conservation so I could work with organisations from many different sectors and backgrounds. Over the last 3 years, I undertook the national leopard census project in Namibia. The project took a multi-disciplinary approach, inside and outside national parks, by combining ecological methodologies and social science to understand the pressures on, and status of, the leopard population across Namibia. At the end of 2019 this project was successfully completed.
I am now fundraising for Phase 2 which will trial conflict mitigation tools in order to reduce leopard-livestock-farmer-conflict. I'm using the low-cost tools currently on the market and also discover and design new options that can be included in the trials. I always want to work with a variety of people and groups as they each bring their own ideas, experience and skills to the project, this will ensure that the project is as successful as possible and avoids duplication of effort.
Before the leopard project....
In 2004 I undertook my first research project in the Mara Triangle, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, as part of my BSc, looking at cheetah behaviour in relation to presence of spotted hyaena. My MSc in Conservation Biology is from the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, University and Kent. My MSc research was in collaboration with a Darwin Initiative project and Friends of Conservation, assessing wildlife distribution in the Greater Mara Ecosystem, Kenya by focusing on the effects of landscape variables and anthropogenic threats on four key species: elephants, lions, zebras, and wild dogs. This was the first project I encountered which included human-wildlife conflict and has subsequently shaped my career path ever since.
Following my MSc I moved to Cambridge, UK, where I volunteered with BirdLife International and from there I got my first paid job at UNEP-WCMC in the protected areas programme after which I moved to TRAFFIC Intentional. I really enjoyed working for these organisations, I learnt a lot and gained new skills but the call of Africa was still there!
I decided to undertake a PhD, which I completed in 2014, on the comparative abundance and ranging behaviour of brown hyaena inside and outside protected areas in South Africa. The study identified the factors that affect the abundance and distribution of brown hyaena between areas of high and low human-wildlife conflict using GPS collars, remote camera traps and questionnaires. During my PhD I was also the scientific team leader for the Earthwatch project ‘Scavengers of South Africa’, looking after volunteers and teaching them research skills. Collectively I spent 3 years in the field collecting data which was highly challenging when working alone over large areas.
Post PhD I joined the Cheetah Conservation Fund, Namibia, as the Ecology Manager for 2 and a half years. I was responsible for coordinating and assisting in all aspects of their ecology and community-based research as well as managing their capacity building training programmes for local communities. As well as supervising interns, volunteers and students.