| WOMEN IN THE WILD

Alex Tweedie

| Areas of Expertise

Advanced Field Guide, Spotted Hyaena Specialist and Wildlife Rehabilitator

| Born

Australia

| Currently

South Africa

| Favorite Quote

“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their part.”

– George Orwell

| Job Title

Admin, Marketing and Student Liaison, Safari4u Veterinary Programme

| Degree

Diploma of Advanced Nature Guiding and Wildlife Conservation; FGASA Advanced (Level2) Field Guide; FGASA Marine Guide; Tracker Level 1; Diploma of Business (Frontline Management); Diploma of Government (Management); Savannah Biome Guide; Wildlife Rehabilitation and Pain and Wound Management.

| White Rhino Dehorning and Microchipping

| Biography

I moved to South Africa in 2009 to work with wildlife after serving as an officer in the Royal Australian Navy. Before joining the Safari4u team, I certified as an Advanced (Level2) Field Guide and worked with several volunteer research groups on Big 5 reserves in the Greater Kruger area in research and anti-poaching and ended up specialising in the population, identification and management of Spotted Hyena. I’ve helped reserves start their research programmes to start working out how to manage the individuals making their property home and also assisted in simply advancing people’s knowledge of these amazing, yet overlooked, animals. My career has lead me to so many different places from guiding, research, instructing junior guides, camp management, care of rehabilitated chimpanzees, down to very normal office work. Currently I work in a veterinary organisation (Safari4u) which offers placements for Pre-Vets and Veterinary Students to experience all aspects of African veterinary work from assisting local communities with their animals’ health to conducting wildlife veterinary work. Both are completely different aspects of my industry and it’s rare to be involved in both. It’s rewarding being able to educate people and see the difference in not only the animals themselves but the owners’ relationship with them. The wildlife aspect can be risky as I would always rather step into danger rather than my students or guests and this has lead to situations such as being hit in the head by the horn of a malnourished rhino while we tried giving it IV fluids, or even being between guests and a charging hippo. I have recently consolidated my experience with wildlife rehabilitation as I have been frequently called upon to care for animals where their owners are unable to care for them intensively – farmers or reserve managers with wildlife, agricultural or domestic animals. This has added a whole new aspect to my day-to-day work which I never expected but have enjoyed so much it’s nice to finally have a recognised qualification!

| Challenges

South Africans are still quite conservative in their opinions and Wildlife Management, especially, is a very male orientated industry so I’ve always had to prove myself before being respected. I have been obviously turned down from roles due to my gender and in one case even told as much. It took getting smacked in the head by a rhino to get people to realize I was serious in my current position!

| Emotional Story

The day I came face to face with the rhino poaching epidemic. I was out trying to find a lion pride and smelt a carcass. This is rare for me as I have an odd sense of smell – I can smell elephants but cant smell rotten carcasses so for me to smell one means it’s either big or very old. I walked in, following the smell before being able to follow the flies and there it was, a swollen carcass of a rhino sitting in fluids and maggots… and no horn. I swore loudly and using words I never use and ran back to the truck. I was so fast and angry my guests thought I was being chased by the lions! I called our anti-poaching team who I’d just talked to 10minutes before as I’d seen human tracks along our fence line and they were following up. It turns out they were likely the same people who committed the crime. I was still pumped on adrenaline when we realized she might have left a calf behind. It still haunts me to this day that the prevalence of poaching is so bad that I could find this on a game drive with guests.

| Wildebeest Checkup” if it can change to “Wildebeest immobilization

| Conservation Tip

Save water! Living in two drought prone countries, I’m all too aware of the fact we overuse this precious resource.
1. Turn off the tap if you aren’t using it (eg. brushing your teeth),
2. Don’t run water, rather fill up the sink instead (eg. washing dishes)
3. Try to have shorter showers (think no more than the length 2 songs)
4. Re-use plastic bottles

| Advice

1. Don’t be scared, everyone starts being scared of something.
2. Don’t expect to be paid like a millionaire (learn how to budget early).
3. Follow your passions – you might find a new one you never thought of within a larger field.

| If You Could Be Any Animal, What Would You Be?

A Honey Badger – they’re misunderstood as being aggressive but in fact they’re simply very defensive. They wont do anything unless you provoke them (although you might not realise you’ve done that, haha!) They’re also very intelligent and very resilient… and cute.)

| Contact

Website: www.safari4u.com — Experience life as a vet in an African setting in a programme encompassing Community, Agriculture and Wildlife opportunities.
Social: @rangertweedie