Growing up in South Africa, rhinos were always in the headlines due to their fight for survival after major hunting and poaching pressures during the 20th Century, and I had a particular affinity for any animal that was suffering purely as a result of our destructive actions as a species. So my fascination and love of rhinos was born when I was around 9 years old.
It has been my life's mission to do anything and everything in my power to improve the future of these incredible ancient giants of the African bushveld, which is what brought me back to South Africa after 13 years living in England. I saw a white rhino MSc advertised and jumped at this incredible opportunity, which allowed for a year of wandering around a very wild section of Kruger National Park, with just my tracker for company, while learning the movements and habitat use of these newly introduced rhinos. If that experience didn't seal the deal in terms of my commitment to rhino conservation, then nothing ever could.
I have been described as tenacious and gritty due to my perseverance on this mission to complete my PhD, despite formidable hurdles. My aim has been to investigate topics that are current and critical, and not just carry out a PhD for the sake of the three letters after my name. And it was around 2008/9, when I started conceptualising my PhD ideas, that the shocking poaching statistics started making headlines. I began to shift my focus to investigate topics that could be of benefit to the people on the frontline of the poaching saga. I have some incredible and potentially ground-breaking research topics, initiated by conversations with various rhino experts. I have an incredible new advisor who has helped me greatly to shape my ideas and focus efforts with constant, unfaltering support....and now I just need that final financial boost to get me through the final year of this incredible adventure.