CAREERS IN CONSERVATION – Danielle du Toit
Danielle is a Field Officer with the EWT’s Birds of Prey Programme. Here is a little bit about Danielle’s journey to a career in conservation with the EWT.
Job title: Field Officer
What do you do in your day-day work?
I meet with farmers and other landowners to sign them on and assist them in making their land safe for vultures. I also work to mitigate threats to vultures and address the reasons behind the threats so we can ensure the longevity of the threat-free landscape. These include addressing livestock loss to predation through implementing non-lethal ways of predation management (mobile kraaling, livestock guardian dogs etc.), minimising potential lead poisoning from lead ammunition used by hunters, awareness campaigns, and working with ammunition industry professionals to promote a reliable and affordable alternative to lead ammunition.
Location: I’m based in Graaff-Reinet (in the Eastern Cape) but work across the broader Eastern Cape and in the Beaufort West area.
Where did you grow up? I grew up on a farm outside Graaff-Reinet
What are your hobbies/things you like to do in your spare time? Anything that gets me outside and busy with my hands. I love to try my hand at gardening, woodwork and super basic home renovation projects – none of which I’ve quite mastered yet!
Any pets? One precious dog and three cats.
Favourite animal and why: This changes all the time. Although I’m supposed to say vultures, I think I’ll go with Meerkats (Suricates). They’re feisty things for their size. I just love their attitude.
Favourite food? I love a good hearty meal – rys, vleis and aartappels, as my Ouma used to say.
Pet peeve? Jeans with fake pockets. Please, can the fashion industry stop selling me dreams?
Why did you want to work for the EWT? The EWT is a forward-thinking organisation with plenty of room to grow personally and professionally.
What are you passionate about? Changing the perception of the relationship between farming and conservation. I think that in the past, a few bad apples ruined it for many conservation-orientated farmers who manage their land in a way that is super beneficial to biodiversity and food security. I also really love finding different ways to approach and overcome challenges and seeing how we, as an organisation, can leave a positive and lasting impact on our environment and its people.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received, and who did it come from? “There’s no such thing as can’t. You either don’t want to or don’t know how to. Either way, it’s your decision.”
My parents and grandparents taught me that, and I still live by it. I always remind myself that I’m capable of anything I put my mind to, so long as I’m open to learning (and probably failing a few times) along the way!
What is your go-to feel-good song? Feel it Still – Portugal, the Man.