‘What do you want to be when you are old’
The question that you asked, and got asked, countless times when you were a child. And what did you answer? Teacher? Mom? Firefighter? I would have never guessed at that age I would say ‘working on nature conservation in Africa’. But yes, that is what I want to do when I am old. My goal in my career is to move to Africa and put all my effort into the conservation of the amazing nature you can find there.
But Africa is big and there are a lot of different aspects of nature conservation. So what do I really want? Well, it is not that easy. I have too many interest and too many wishes. There is not one specific country or one specific kind of project I would like to live and work. There are so many interesting ecosystems and species. The lemurs in Madagascar, the elephant in the Okavango delta in Botswana, the highland gorillas in Uganda/Rwanda/Congo, The wildebeest migration on the Serengeti. And what about all the other animals; the antelopes, the giraffes, the zebras, the rhinos, the birds and all the important insects. How is it possible to choose just one topic?
What project or country is the ultimate goal?
And there are so many different aspects that I find interesting. I love the big wildlife, I love trees, I love data and numbers, I love insects, I love data analysis programs, I love fieldwork, I love lab work, I love to spends days on a row focused on a dataset, I love ecosystem restoration, … How can it be possible to combine all these interests? Part of these are fairly easy to combine, with all research work there will be data and data analysis. Does not matter if you work on big wildlife, trees or insects. But combining ecosystem restoration in this list is already a bit more complicated. And as this list of interest is not long enough already, how cool would it be to manage a wildlife reserve?
And what about all the amazing countries there are? There are 54 countries, not an easy task to choose from. Therefore, I can not name just one country that I would want to work and live in. As I am a fan of trees, I would not enjoy working in the desert. So I would like to stay in sub-sahari Africa. That is a part of the possibilities eliminated, but there are still many options. All the countries in the middle, eastern and southern parts of Africa are interesting. Not all of these countries are safe enough to travel to, unfortunately. If that wouldn’t be an issue I would have flown straight to Congo. If that country every becomes save, that would be my goal. Or maybe Madagascar, that country will always have a soft spot in my heart.
If everything was possible…
Of course, there are some jobs I would say yes to at any time, although most of them are just not realistic. I would love to do research on elephants in the Okavango Delta, or the lemurs on Madagascar. I would love to work in the Congo basin forest, or on the Serengeti. Another part of my heart wants to restore degraded ecosystems. In Madagascar almost all the forest has been cut, how amazing would it be to reverse some of that?
But I have to be realistic, jobs are scares and especially in the beginning. And the jobs that I mentioned above are very popular, a lot of people have these goals. I would not be in the position to have plenty of jobs to choose from. In the beginning, the most important thing is to go out there and get experience. When your CV is filled with projects, then the chances increase of finding your real dream job. But as long as I can work in Africa, not a single job can be bad right?
My ultimate goal or dream would be to live and work in many different countries on many different projects. See and experience as much as possible and help in as many places as possible. Everywhere below the Sahara desert and all the way down to South Africa. And when I no longer enjoy the moving and travelling around, I will either pick a place where I can find an awesome permanent/long-term job or I go back to Norway. And work on my other goal in life. One day I hope to have my own little house with lots of land, located in the middle of nowhere. And life happily with all my animals. Anybody who knows where to buy a mini donkey?