My first job after graduating as an ecologist from Leeds University was in Africa – little did I know the importance of this on my life. As the permanent ecologist for Raleigh International in Zimbabwe I set up numerous conservation projects, managed hundreds of volunteers, collated scientific data and wrote many reports. And it was here that I promptly fell in love with the continent. The fact that I had a Mozambique Spitting Cobra living under my house for two years did not deter me.
I have a passion for conservation, an in-depth knowledge about African wildlife and an obsession with giraffe having spent countless hours monitoring these animals and collecting their poo! This was for scientific purposes. I have a wealth of fascinating African wildlife factoids (often utterly useless) and love learning trivia about wildlife. Did you know that dung beetles can navigate by the milky way? And the collective noun for zebra is a dazzle?
Since Zimbabwe, I have spent many years working in a number of countries in Africa, have led expeditions to Africa as well as other far flung places, lived in a hammock in Vanuatu, counted parrots in the Caribbean, worked for a game capture unit in South Africa and set up conservation and community projects in Swaziland.
I am also a qualified mountain leader and led many expedition to far flung countries including Morocco, Borneo, Vietnam and Costa Rica, but the draw of Africa is strong and I keep boomeranging back.
This love of Africa led me to setting up my own business organising specialist holidays to the dark continent. Sense Africa specialises in Swaziland and I represent Swaziland for the Tourism Authority. Although most people start off with the question “Where is Swaziland?’ it is lovely to engage people about this warm and friendly Kingdom and encourage people to visit. There are also many other fascinating places to visit, Botswana and Namibia are up there on my list for a visually stunning and genuine African experience, I organise holidays their too. It is lovely hearing guests tales about their holidays once they return.
The most dangerous bug that you can be bitten by is the ‘Africa bug’. Most people who have visited Africa can relate to this.
There is something about Africa that makes me feel as if I have come home, it is restoration for my soul.