“Upon your first visit to Africa you will leave a little piece of your heart behind, and will always long to return”. These words were imparted to Debbie by the stranger that she sat next to on a plane during her first trip to the continent. They would subsequently be the catalyst in what would become a major career change. Having fallen in love with Africa and all of its wildlife and people on that first trip, Debbie left a job in Telecommunications in London to volunteer at the Kalahari Meerkat Project in South Africa. She ended up staying at the project for two years, and it was here that she learnt many valuable fieldwork skills; such as radio tracking the meerkats, carrying out behavioural observations and processing biological samples in the field.
Debbie’s time at the project motivated her to apply to do a Zoology BSc at University College London, providing her with the theoretical framework to compliment the practical fieldwork skills that she had gained in the Kalahari Desert. Throughout her degree, Debbie used her summer breaks to expand her fieldwork skills by working with a variety of different species; including Chacma baboons in Namibia, Howler Monkeys in Mexico and Neotropical paper wasps in Trinidad. Debbie hopes that the Conservation Biology Masters at UCT will allow her a more in-depth understanding of how Anthropogenic change poses a threat to the African wildlife she has come to love, and that in the future she can help to implement conservation strategies to protect these threatened species.