Eugene is a Field Officer with the EWT’s Carnivore Conservation Programme. Here is a little bit about Eugene’s journey to a career in conservation with the EWT.

Job Title: Carnivore Conservation Field Officer

What do you do in your day-day work? No day is quite the same. I am primarily assigned to the Range Expansion Project. My responsibilities vary between looking after predators in the EWT Holding Facility/Boma, community consultation and relations, assisting and advising with relocations, post-release monitoring of translocated predators, partner engagement, and a wide variety of other interesting tasks.     

Location: Welgevonden Game Reserve, Waterberg, Limpopo

Where did you grow up? I have been privileged enough to experience best of both worlds – I was raised in the farming community of Oudtshoorn in the Western Cape but moved to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates during my early high school years. 

What are your hobbies/things you like to do in your spare time? I volunteer as a wildland fire practitioner and enjoy working with snakes. I also never say no to a good road trip or hike, and travel as often as possible.

Any pets? I wish, if only I was allowed to have any. That’s the trade-off to living on a nature reserve I suppose.

Favourite animal and why:  I’ve spent the last couple of years working on leopards, so I think it is fair to say that I have developed a soft spot for them. However, I think this might be a slightly unfair question to ask any wildlife ecologist. 😃

Favourite food? There are very few things that can compete with a good butter chicken in my opinion. Of course, there is always a proper braai as well.

Pet peeve?  When people throw rubbish out of their car window, or anywhere else for that matter, with the expectation that someone else will clean up after them. Also, weak coffee.

Why did you want to work for the EWT? As a well-established organisation that sets the standard in innovation, research, and well-informed applied conservation across Southern Africa, I believe there is no better environment than the EWT to learn from, develop within, and contribute to as an early-career wildlife ecologist. With a holistic, integrated strategy that recognises not only species, but also landscapes and the people that share in those landscapes, the approach of the EWT is something I deeply resonate with. Ultimately, I believe that the EWT provides the ideal platform to be able to remain curious and to make a real collaborative difference, and that is what I am here for.

What are you passionate about?  I am convinced that every person has the ability within to influence those around them, be that by means of real, honest conversation or by virtue of exemplary actions. Often, I find myself standing in awe of the long-term impact that individual change can have on a community, and in turn on the natural environment. Therefore, I enjoy seeing people grow and develop and being part of that process, even though my first love has always been Mother Nature. During the past few years of studies and time spent volunteering with several conservation organisations, I came to realise that the biggest long-term influence we can have is by targeted education in communities where we can plant a seed that will drive local change from within – tackling problems using solutions crafted together that empower and benefit stakeholders for the greater good of the ecosystem. After all, conservation is about people. In order to ensure that we make a positive impact as conservationists, be that by means of education or effective adaptive management of landscapes that facilitate biological diversity, we need to be sure that the change we instil is accurately informed. Thus, I find myself in the realm of ecological research, with a particular passion for animal behaviour and socio-ecological dynamics, including human-wildlife coexistence and spatial ecology.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received, and who did it come from? Listen with the intent to understand, not to respond” – I believe it is a quote by Stephen Covey, but my granddad was the one to share this wisdom with me.

What is your go-to feel-good song? Bubble Toes by Jack Johnson

What excites you about this new position? Every day out in the field brings new and exciting challenges – it never becomes monotonous. Having the privilege to be able to learn from a great group of experienced colleagues, as well as the opportunity to travel as part of my work, is also very exciting.