‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’
The question that you asked, and were asked countless times during your childhood. What did you answer back then? Teacher? Mom? Firefighter? At that age, I would have never guessed that my response would be ‘working on nature conservation in Africa.’ However, that is precisely what I aspire to in my career. My ultimate goal is to relocate to Africa and dedicate all my efforts to the conservation of the incredible natural world that thrives there.
Yet, Africa is vast and offers a plethora of opportunities within the field of nature conservation. So, what is it that I truly desire in my career? Well, it’s not a straightforward answer. My interests are as varied as my wishes. There is no single country or specific project that I yearn for; the possibilities are endless. Africa boasts a multitude of captivating ecosystems and extraordinary species.
There are the enchanting lemurs in Madagascar, the majestic elephants in the Okavango Delta of Botswana, the awe-inspiring highland gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo, and the legendary wildebeest migration across the Serengeti. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The African continent is home to a myriad of remarkable creatures. From graceful antelopes and towering giraffes to iconic zebras and critically endangered rhinos. Not to mention the diverse birdlife and the essential world of insects. How could one possibly choose just one focus amid such biodiversity?
What project or country is the ultimate goal in my nature conservation career?
There are so many different aspects of nature conservation that I find incredibly fascinating. I have a deep love for the grandeur of big wildlife, an appreciation for the majesty of trees, a fondness for diving into data and numbers, a fascination with the intricate world of insects, a genuine enjoyment of working with data analysis programs, a passion for both fieldwork and laboratory research, and a profound interest in ecosystem restoration.
The question that often occupies my mind is how to weave all of these diverse interests together into a cohesive career. Some aspects naturally align, like research work which inherently involves data and analysis, regardless of whether it’s focused on big wildlife, trees, or insects. However, incorporating ecosystem restoration into the mix is a bit more intricate. Moreover, I’ve often dreamt of managing a wildlife reserve as my nature conservation career. An ambition that adds another layer of complexity.
And then there are the countries of Africa, a tapestry of 54 unique nations. Selecting just one from this vast array is no easy task. Given my affinity for trees, I am drawn to regions with lush vegetation, ruling out desert landscapes. This preference narrows my choices to the sub-Saharan African countries. Still, the possibilities are abundant, spanning the middle, eastern, and southern parts of Africa. However, not all of these nations are currently safe for travel, which is a heartbreaking limitation. If safety were not a concern, I would have already embarked on a journey to places like Congo, a dream destination for me. Or perhaps Madagascar, a country that holds a permanent place in my heart.
If everything was possible…
Certainly, there are dream jobs in a nature conservation career that would make me say “yes” in a heartbeat, even if they seem somewhat unrealistic. The prospect of conducting research on elephants in the Okavango Delta or studying lemurs in Madagascar is undeniably alluring. Similarly, the idea of working in the Congo Basin forest or the Serengeti holds a special place in my heart. Another facet of my passion lies in ecosystem restoration, particularly in Madagascar, where vast swathes of forest have been lost. The notion of helping to reverse some of that destruction is incredibly appealing.
Yet, I’m aware of the challenges inherent in landing such sought-after positions. These jobs are highly competitive, with numerous individuals aspiring to attain them. Realistically, especially in the early stages of my career, I may not have the luxury of choosing from a plethora of opportunities. What matters most at this juncture is gaining hands-on experience. Filling my CV with valuable projects will undoubtedly enhance my chances of eventually securing my dream job. As long as I have the privilege of working in Africa, I believe that no job can truly be considered “bad.”
My ultimate ambition and dream encompass a nomadic lifestyle, living and working in various countries on diverse projects. I want to immerse myself in as many experiences as possible and contribute wherever I can. My vision extends from the lands beneath the Sahara Desert down to South Africa. However, I recognize that as I grow older, my desire for constant movement may wane. When that day comes, I will either choose a place where I can find a fulfilling permanent or long-term job, or I will return to Norway. There, I will pursue another life goal: owning a small house with ample land in a remote, tranquil location, where I can live contentedly alongside a menagerie of animals. Does anyone happen to know where I can acquire a miniature donkey?
Want to support my work?
I spend a lot of time keeping this website filled with educational content and keeping updates about what I do to achieve my dream of working and living in Africa. Do you want to support me? You can buy me a coffee or purchase one of my digital prints. All proceeds will go towards my elephant research and the time spent on this website.