Since we often get asked what Wildlife Management actually is we thought it might be a good idea to properly explain what it is. So people know, why we do it and what it is important for, before we write any wildlife related blog posts. The study we did was a 4 years bachelor course in Leeuwarden the Netherlands. It comes with a huge amount of practical work and a variety of modules concerning wildlife research and conservation.
written by Anskar and Lea
About 4 years ago both of us (we didn’t know us at that time) were in the need of making our most important decisions: to plan our future. What are we going to study? In which field of work do we see ourselves in a couple of years? And where do we find something that appropriately suits us? All these questions had to be answered and eventually led us both to the Netherlands. Because only in this place, the beautiful and typically Dutch city Leeuwarden, we found the exact study that suited our interests: Animal Management.
This 4 years bachelor course is indeed only offered by the Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences in Leeuwarden. This is pretty special and they have other outstanding studies such as Coastal and Marine Management, Land and Water Management and many more. The offerings are thus a bit more alternative but nevertheless so important in the world of today!
It was in the Dutch language course (yes, we actually had to learn Dutch to study it!) where we met each other and started the study Animal Management together. After the 4 weeks course we were plunged right in at the deep end and had to study with mostly Dutch people (who certainly mostly spoke Dutch), so you can imagine how difficult the start was. But as always in life, if you really want to do something then just stick to it, put in some work and effort and eventually it will turn out to be worth it! After 2 years of studying we had to specialize (you can see it as some sort of major) into a certain field, for us it was easily Wildlife Management.
“The Greatest Threat to our Planet is the Belief that someone else will safe it”
– Robert Swan
The study actually has a great amount of practical work in form of internships or little excursions. The first 2 years are pretty basic with modules such as Reproduction management, Animal and Society, Balancing People, Planet & Profit and Research Management. This is covering basic biology, marketing, communication skills as well as the basics of management. This ends with the first big internship of 5 months which Lea absolved in South Africa and I in Ecuador. Both of us were working with camera traps. Lea also wrote a management plan for the Greater Kudu. We will talk more about the actual work field at the end of this post.
The real business starts after your specialisation in the third year. For us this was Wildlife Management. There are also other possibilities such as Animals and Society or Nature Education. After that, the modules were more specialized to your own views and perceptions. Everything was getting a bit more personal (as groups get smaller). You get more into the real field of work and away from basic knowledge. This helps you finding what you really want to do after the study. It then is up to you, which modules you choose that suit you and your future plans the most. Personally, we put our focus on wildlife research and ecology.
The fourth and final year of our study started with our second five months internship. Lea and I did this internship together in Sri Lanka at the Wilderness & Wildlife Conservation Trust. The main purpose of this trust is to monitor the leopard population in Sri Lanka, but we also collected data about bird and butterfly diversity as well as other mammal species.
Right after this internship we started our Bachelor thesis. Lea and I conducted our own little research on the wild Greater Rhea population in Northern Germany and the relation between the presence/absence of the Rheas and the diversity of ground nesting birds in this region.
Future work field
This also leads us to the work field we will (hopefully) work in later. We both tend to like the research part the most about our study. Whereas collecting data in the field is actually the best part. It is great to work on a project for months and eventually put everything together to see some results!
But we are very open minded towards our future. In Sri Lanka for example we worked a lot in guest relations, you can imagine it as being a nature guide or ranger. Showing and educate people what beautiful nature we have and what lives in it will hopefully be a great part of our job. And probably something we could do in every country. As part of the internships and our study we often work with camera traps. These remote cameras can sense movement and then take pictures which is a great and easy way to study movement, behaviour or presence/absence of larger animals with the least amount of effort.
Often people ask us if we can work in Germany (or Europe in general) when they hear all these stories about foreign countries and the wild animals there, but in fact: Germany is one of the wildest countries in Europe. At the moment many species return or are already back! We have wild boars, red deer, fallow deer, roe deer, wildcats, lynxes but also wolves, European bison and elks. And these are only the mammals. We have more than 200 breeding bird species and many birds overwinter here.
We have many problems to face like the loss of insects and the resulting loss of birds. All cohesive with our form of intensive agriculture. So, there is a lot to research or educate about. What we wish to do is to combine tourism, education and research. As a result, people can find back their interests in nature and wildlife and know why it is important to protect it. In the end every country has its own unique wildlife. Every group of animals is interesting to study for us, from the smallest insect to the largest mammal.
If you have any questions about the study, feel free to contact us! If you are into conservation it is a great choice to do in Europe. We surely did not regret it, although the start (as always) was a bit bumpy. What we can give you to take along is that whatever you do: do it with passion and because you want to do it! It makes life a lot easier.
Do you have similar studies in your country? What do you study and why? Let us know in the comments!