How to Become a Conservationist of Animals
Deciding to turn your passion into your career is an excellent start to your working life, cause as they, “It’s not work if you love what you do!” And with that being said, extending your passion and love for animals and the outdoors into your profession is bound to bring you fulfillment. Wildlife conservationists are dedicated and hardworking individuals, who have devoted their time to preserving both the plants and animals of the planet, as well as the habitats that they thrive in.
Conservationists have to be familiar with, and educated about the different species of fauna and flora that they work with regularly, including an intricate knowledge regarding water and soil conditions. To enter the workforce in this line of work, you must have some form of formal studies behind you, preferably a Bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology, environmental studies, agricultural sciences or a similarly related field. Forestry, zoology or biology are similarly acceptable majors for a career in animal conservation.
For a more practical experience in your chosen field, some programs offer the opportunity of volunteering with animals, so that you can gain the necessary practical experience for your career moving forward. Spending your time caring for and learning about wildlife first-hand is an experience that cannot be attained through a book, and one that is going to put you a few steps ahead once you enter this highly competitive job market.
Positive aspects regarding working in the field, and directly in-line with you desired goals and outcomes, is the benefit that you gain from working in a number of different environments, exponentially increasing your practical knowledge and hands-on experience. Working in Africa with animals gives you the ideal opportunity to fully embrace the outdoors, all the while making a difference to both the overall environment, and yourself. Nature conservation is by its very nature a physical, and physically demanding job, which comes with its own set of rewards and challenges that you are not going to find in the regular hustle and bustle of a 9 to 5 lifestyle.
Get Yourself Educated
Knowledge is power, and in this competitive world that we live in, increasing your knowledge base is the solid foundation that you need to get ahead in this world. Studying through a university, or any other formal education institution, is going to give you a new perspective on the world, while at the same time teaching you to be a more cultured and empathetic individual. Aside from the formal learning aspects, many conservation study programs encourage students to spend time volunteering with animals. This way, students are able to bridge the gap between the theory and the practical a whole lot easier.
Wildlife Rescue, Rehabilitation and Sanctuaries
Wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centres and sanctuaries are the perfect places to gain your hands-on experience or simply to fulfill your animal passion. Here you will get to care for and rehabilitate sick, orphaned and wounded animals, helping them to become strong enough to be released back into the wild. There are literally hundreds of programs that give you this opportunity to volunteer abroad, in South Africa for example, where you will be involved in the direct and on-going conservation efforts underway. These sanctuaries and rehabilitation centres offer more than just care for those animals in need, they are the educational lifeline for the local communities.
International Ecotourism and Volunteering
International volunteering experiences are life-changing, and provide a fresh perspective on life and the way that the world works. You have the opportunity to be immersed in the culture of a foreign land, all the while exposing you to the practicalities of conservation at the ground level. Conservation volunteering opportunities can be found here for those who are interested in getting involved in conservation, free-range wildlife, wildlife research, nature tours, the local culture and more, all in one trip.
Ecotourism can be defined as,’ the practice of travelling responsibly to natural areas that are known to preserve the environment, sustain the well-being of the local inhabitants and institutes both education and interpretation’. Closely linked to volunteering abroad, ecotourism is another great opportunity to gain knowledge and experience all in one swift tour. Who knows the networking that you can get done while in another country.
Making connections and meeting new people is an essential part of what conservation is all about. People are the lifeblood of conservation efforts around the globe, and as such, are the most important cog in this enormous wheel. Making the right connections in conservation is almost paramount to securing the career position your after. Not only that, the people that you are going to meet and interact with have been in your shoes before. They understand the challenges that lie ahead when you volunteer abroad, and are understanding of your cause to better your life and move forward in conservation. Be genuine in your interactions with the people you meet, you never know what opportunities they could line up for you in the future.
Getting a Job in Wildlife Conservation
With wildlife around the world in the current state of crisis that it is, the conservation sectors are in dire need of more highly skilled and experienced professionals. The industry requires you to have a wide range of skill sets and mental toughness, along with a positive and a contagious attitude to succeed. All that considered, over the past decade or so, finding a job in the industry has become rather challenging, and is going to require more of you than it did, not all that long ago.
Types of Wildlife Conservation Jobs
Opportunities for employment within this field are varied:
• Parks and conservation worker
• Conservation scientist
• Environmental science and protection engineer/technician
• Park and conservation technician
Now although your time spent working in Africa with animals will not quite be the same as being a parks worker in your country, the experience you gained during your conservation travels will help your career every step of the way.
The wildlife conservation industry requires that you have rather specific skills necessary to become an integral part of the industry, and these skills are:
Interview and Job Hunting Tips
You need to be enthusiastic about your job, passionate about what you do and possess a certain level of commitment to the cause.
- You should be confident using both hand and power tools, as these are part and parcel of everyday life in conservation.
- A thorough understanding of health and safety practices when working tools and/or undertaking one or another practical task or project.
- A positive and friendly approach to life in general
- A willingness to learn, develop in yourself and be open to training and instruction.
Long hours and harsher than usual conditions are the norm when it comes to conservation work in general. And don’t expect to get rich any time soon either. This calling is more about your passion than your pay check, your life however, will be filled with an incomparable satisfaction.
Be creative in the creation of your own opportunities. They may come in the form of conservation volunteering, internship abroad opportunities, or even if you volunteer to help clean the ocean, the people that you meet and acquaint yourself with could make all the difference to your future career path.
If you really want to put yourself ahead, you have to be dedicated enough to put in some serious time behind the books. The majority of people in this industry are highly educated in their chosen field, thus, raising the bar that little bit extra.
Once you enter your chosen field you are going to need to demonstrate the skills that you have learned for wildlife conservation. Even if it happens to be your first job. This is where your experience gained through your studies, conservation volunteering and your working experience is going to make all the difference.
The Professional Field Guide Course
The Professional Field Guide Course is an all-inclusive theoretical and practical study course that is the perfect platform to increase you knowledge of the African bush and her wildlife, whilst giving you the necessary experience and knowledge to successfully manage a conservation or wildlife reserve. It will also put you in better standing to become a forest ranger in your home country. For the duration of the course you will be exposed to the varied geographical terranes, landscapes, fauna and flora, as well as the immensely diverse ecology of Africa.
Your time spent here, working in Africa with animals in these unfenced bush camps, is a constant learning experience that will be supported by our highly qualified and experienced instructors and field guides.
Subjects covered during the course will include:
• An introduction to guiding in the natural environment
• Basic bush and survival skills
• Fish, birds and reptiles
• Basic ecology and taxonomy
• Animal behaviour
• Tracks and tracking
• How to approach dangerous game animals
• Off-road, night driving and 4x4 driving
This course is divided into two parts. The first is a 4-5 month practical and theoretical training, conducted by our highly trained and qualified professional instructors. Throughout this period you will complete a series of separate certificate courses, highlighting your progress.
For the following 5-6 months you will be placed at a game lodge were you will be working with their experienced guides and lodge managers that will nurture, develop and fine tune your newly acquired skills and knowledge. Once you have completed the course you will have completed your qualification, and in addition to that, you will have the practical work experience to back it up. For more information about the course, click