I studied Forest and Nature Conservation in The Netherlands and Nature Conservation in South Africa. My M.Sc focused on the posititive effects of elephants on small ungulate browsers in the Greater Kruger National Park in South Africa and resulted in a journal article and a presentation at the annual Savanna Science Network Meeting in Kruger National Park (South Africa). After writing my thesis, I focussed on Community Based Conservation through an internship at the Sacred Natural Sites Initiative (SNSI). Next to gaining a whole lot of knowledge through my studies, I also got the opportunity to interact with some of the most incredible people from all over the world during the conferences I attended over the years.
After my studies, I kept on working for the Sacred Natural Sites Initiative to finish the In Perspective project that I started which was a series of short interviews asking people the simple questions of ‘what is a sacred natural site and why is it important to you?’ The results of these interviews can be found on the Sacred Natural Site website.
I then worked for Naturalis Biodiversity Centre for about a year where I helped digitising the herbarium whereafter I moved on to the the Association for Dutch Cultural Landscapes (DCL) where I started working as a Project Assistant. At the association, we take care of the Dutch (agri)cultural lands that have been damaged by rigorous land reformations over the last decades because of agricultural intensification. We are trying to maintain the landscape elements that are left (and harbour a great diversity of plant and animal species) and restore those elements that can possibly be restored. One of the elements that I am currently involved with is a cultural landscape photography project where I gather images of the landscapes that are still left in The Netherlands.
“Once you gaze a leopard in the eye your soul will inevitable be linked to the African soils” is a phrase that a Namibian friend told me over a bonfire overlooking the vast plains of Etosha National park in Nambia. Little did I know back then that he had told me an absolute truth because ever since I studied in South Africa back in 2008, I keep going back to Africa.
So when I received an email with the opportunity to work for a Zambian NGO in 2014, I knew I needed to give it a try. I stayed in and around the Nsumbu National Park for a little over three months while working for Conservation Lake Tanganyika (CLT) and every day in this reserve was an absolute treat. I thoroughly enjoyed the many times I walked across the plains, made my way through the thick vegetation down toward lake Tanganyika and even attempted to swim across lake Tanganyika with some Mad Swimmers. Nsumbu National Park is one of those true natural gems that we simply cannot afford to lose. Next to fundraising and managing anti-poaching patrols I also had the time to release my creativity on this project once again which resulted in a fully refurbished website, some blogs and videos for CLT to help promoting them and Nsumbu National Park.
While I’ve spend most of my professional career in The Netherlands up untill now, most of my side activities are quite international. After attending the World Wilderness Congress in Mérida (Mexico) and the World Conservation Congress in Jeju (South Korea), I teamed up with The WILD Foundation team that was in the phase of developing CoalitionWILD. I’m still very committed to this group of amazing young professionals and I am part of the steering committee.
With Africa being one of my true passions, I’m still very much involved in many projects on the African continent through colleagues and friends. I’ve stayed in close contact with the people at the Agricultural Research Council with whom I worked during my thesis work over the years and I’m always looking for ways to help them further in their work. Since early 2015, I’ve been more and more involved in volunteering for Activating Africa, which is trying to make a difference through ‘conservation through innovation’ and working very closely with the local community.
As you can see, I’ve kept myself busy over the last few years and I probably made it quite clear that I love the African bush. Sharing these experiences through photographs and videos has become a great hobby and I hope there are still many more adventures to come. I would like to end this short bio with some lines that I once stated in an interview which I think describes me quite well:
“Never stop dreaming! You have to be very persistent if you really want a career in conservation. If you keep dreaming as big as you can, your chance will come. It might not be tomorrow; it might not be this year; but your opportunity will come!”
If you would like to know more about my professional career, please view my CV.