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Landing my Dream Job for the World Wildlife Fund to protect the Bonobo

by Lara Stone
08 August 2016

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Hi, my name is Lara Stone. I graduated from Roehampton with a BSc Honours in Zoology, I am also a MSc graduate in Primate Behaviour and Conservation. I am about to embark on a journey of a lifetime to the Democratic Republic of Congo working with the World Wildlife Fund to study the endangered Bonobo.

It was in my second year that I decided to focus on a pathway of primatology and I have my tutor at the time, Professor Stuart Semple, to thank for that. I tailored my modules with a focus on primatology. My dream job was to rescue primates from the pet and bush meat trades, and help rehabilitating these animals back to the wild.

“So you want to work in a zoo, right?” I’m sure that this is a question that all young budding zoologists hear. Zoology is so much more than that. A zoology degree could lead you on to a career in veterinary medicine, animal welfare, ecology, conservation or the specialisation of a particular species or group of animals, as in my case with primatology.

I will be the habituation team leader and be part of the WWF Bonobo Conservation Project in the Lac Tumba region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The objectives of the project are to continue research and support ecotourism activities with two groups of bonobos. We will also conserve the surrounding landscape and biodiversity through integrated management activities within the local communities.

I will be responsible for the supervision of local trackers that follow the bonobos on a daily basis. My work will also include conflict management and mitigation, data collection, entry and analysis as well as writing progress reports.

My role also means that I will be trekking up to 15km a day in extremely humid jungle conditions. I will also survive on basic meals consisting of rice and beans, with no hope of a Chinese takeaway throughout my duration there!

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My advice for those interested in zoology would be to get out there and volunteer. Getting involved is a fantastic way to broaden your cultural experiences. It also indicates to employers that you are able to deal with a range of potentially difficult situations.

My zoology quest has taken me to Borneo working with Orangutans; South Africa where I have worked with chimps, baboons and alongside wildlife veterinarians; Madagascar where I spent months surveying the coral reefs, and Sri Lanka where I volunteered helping street dogs. It can be an emotional rollercoaster at times and you might see some disturbing things but stay strong and remember that you are fighting to make a difference.

An inspirational quote that motivates me is:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world, indeed, it is the only thing that ever does.”
                                                                                                                            -Margret Mead     

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