Tell us about you and your journey to conservation/wildlife vet nursing?! Do you have a story of a past experience with an animal that has stuck with you?
I have always loved animals, and felt a deep connection to Mother Earth. After living in and travelling Europe after school, I studied Certificate III Captive Animal Management and got a job as the Education Program Manager at a wildlife park. Teaching people about Australian animals every day inspired me to start a conservation education platform, and to study a Bachelor of Zoology.
While I was studying I was accepted for an internship with the Jane Goodall Institute of Nepal, studying human-wildlife conflict. My first few weeks there were focused on helping the survivors of the brutal Gadhimai festival, and it was here I realised I needed more skills in animal medicine and care. So when I finished my degree I looked for a wildlife nursing course, and am now enrolled to begin my studies this July!
I hear your pets are an unlikely bunch! Stick insects and a spider. Tell us about these beautiful creatures and what you love about them?
Haha I actually have to thank my partner for our latest pets- they were his idea. We have two Gargantuan Stick Insects (Ctenomorpha gargantua) named Sebastian (actually a female) and Mrs Iglesias (after a hilarious scene from ‘Bridesmaids’). They are a recently-discovered species, native to the rainforests of far-north Queensland, and are believed to be one of the largest species of stick insect in the world! I love to watch them eat (at night you can even hear them munching away on the leaves) and try to camouflage- when they sense us around they start swaying like branches. I also love just how incredibly well their bodies have evolved to camouflage- their forearms have little slots in them so their head doesn’t stick out between them!
We also have a Golden Hunstman (Beregama aurea) named Shorty, who does an adorable happy dance when she gets fed!
Tahnee & Mrs Iglesias
End Extinction International is an environmental conservation organisation founded by you and focuses on conservation through education. Education is so important particularly when it comes to our environment and looking after the planet.
What are you currently focusing on educating others on? Are there are particular concerns that you’d like to shed light on?
EEI was started in 2013 with the goal of increasing awareness for endangered species, helping people understand the everyday impacts we have on our world, and offering real-life ways that they can make a difference. It’s definitely been a rollercoaster running EEI by myself, I’ve been so blessed to connect with incredible people around the world, made new friends, and had the honour of presenting at several events and schools.
With the world in such turmoil the past year, my biggest concerns have been the lack of funding for conservation efforts such as anti-poaching rangers, as well as the drastic increase in single-use plastic use. I hope that people are able to find ways to use what they have and invest in reusables where possible.
My focus at the moment for EEI is to develop an app that will allow people to learn and take immediate action everywhere they go. There are just so many species out there desperately in need of protecting, it can all become very overwhelming. So I hope that by streamlining everything into a simple-to-use app, it will inspire and motivate people every day! “Their future is our legacy”. - EEI’s slogan.