My dream is to pursue a career in conservation wildlife, particularly in the recovery of threatened species. My background has largely been conservation work with mammals, a passion that drove me to fly to the other side of the world (32 hours, four planes) to study and release rehabilitated sloths back into the wild Costa Rican jungle, as a volunteer after my undergraduate degree. I endured constant jungle thunderstorms, scorpion stings and dense jungle tracking to participate in the exciting first research into the success of sloth rehabilitation and release. Born to be wild was the motto of the non-profit I worked with, which I found inspiring. Not only were we rehabilitating injured wildlife, but also educating locals and instigating solutions to prevent the source issues.
My Honours project was designed by myself, in conjunction with different organisations: the University of Western Australia, Edith Cowan University and the Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions (DBCA). I spent about three weeks out of every month for five months in the bush, checking pitfall traps twice daily to gather information about the vulnerability of a very northern population of the Honey Possum. I have since been an advisor for the DBCA, discussing fire management and conservation solutions for the management of the newly gazetted reserve I worked with. This is a project I have been very proud of, as the research I conducted has helped inform management to sustain a vulnerable population.
I am now back in Western Australia, one year into my PhD project located in the Mid West. My study species is the Western Spiny-tailed Skink, an endangered lizard of which very little is known. I have begun with researching their basic biological requirements, and I will continue to look into the abiotic and behavioural requirements for sustaining a population. I am working in conjunction with a mining company, intending to clear skink habitat – an issue because no translocation attempts for the subspecies has been successful so far. My research aims to inform the specific habitat requirements, as well as the particular translocation techniques that will allow successful translocation of the endangered subspecies. This project has so far helped improve my skills in project management, experimental design, volunteer coordination, data collection, use of equipment and ability to share science with the wider community. I hope to continue this path to develop my skills in the design of meaningful research, to inform threatened species management and preserve biodiversity for the future.