Dr. Tempe Adams

| Areas of Expertise

Biologist and Marine Scientist

| Born

Sydney, Australia

| Currently

Kasane, Botswana

| Favorite Quote

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time”

– Thomas A. Edison

| Biography

I initially started my career working in the Mammal Lab at University of New South Wales (UNSW) during my undergraduate degree, looking at leopard seal vocalizations and determining their density estimates in Antarctica. This then leads to me being involved with conducting leopard seal playback experiments with captive animals, to determine learning capabilities. I went on to do my honors thesis on blue whales vocalizations off the east and southern coast of Australia examining species presence and density estimation. I was accepted to do a summer research internships in Kenya with the NGO, “Save the Elephants”, based in Kenya, working on the monitoring of the illegal killing of elephants (MIKE) program, additionally I worked on a long-term mammal census and elephant database for the area. This then lead me to being offered a Ph.D. scholarship with UNSW and inspired me to pursue the Africa dream and work on a human-elephant conflict in Botswana, with the wildlife research NGO ‘Elephants Without Borders’. I completed my Ph.D. in 2016 and have stayed with the NGO continuing the human-elephant coexistence and mitigation work.

| I love photographing African Elephants. 

| Job Title

I currently work as the Research coordinator at a wildlife NGO called “Elephants Without Borders” and I have a position as an Adjunct lecturer with the University of New South Wales.

| Degree

I have a Bachelor of Environmental Science (hons) and Ph.D.

| Just like with every job, some days are better than others. 🙂 

| Challenges

It can always be hard to have the courage to take risks in your career, especially when it is not the common endeavor. I once had a high school science teacher tell me I could not pass chemistry and that I would be better suited for art, so I did as he said and enrolled in art. I was so disheartened with myself and I doubted if I could pursue a degree in science as I suspected I was not smart enough. But I took the risk when I finished high school and applied for a number of science degrees at three different universities. I managed to obtain a distinction in 3rd-year undergraduate chemistry. It made me think do not let anyone tell you what you can and can’t achieve.

| Emotional Story

I was in Samburu Reserve in northern Kenya doing an internship with an idol of mine Dr. Ian Douglas-Hamilton. I was out with the research team and we were taking ID shots of elephant herds in the area. We came across one of the most magnificent, ancient old tusker bulls. Upon close inspection, we noticed that he was limping and favoring a leg which made it very difficult for him to feed. We sat with him for hours trying to work out what the issue could be, they found two bullet holes in his lower wrist joint. The head researcher called the Kenyan Wildlife Service to call in a vet so we could attempt to assist this bull. They said they could come but not until the following morning. So, we sat with him until the last light was gone, we woke before sunrise the next morning to find him for the vets. We found him at sunrise browsing on some acacia, the vets arrived we darted him and found multiple bullet holes. Luckily the vets cleaned all the wounds and gave him a dose of antibiotics, we also deployed a GPS collar on him to monitor his future. He went on to live for many years. That 24 hours convinced that if I could keep doing this sort of work, then I would be content.

| Conservation Tip

Use less of everything, this is not advice to a woman but an advice to the whole human race. Use less water, plastic, artificial resources. We simply don’t need it.

| Advice

1. For every challenge, you face you will learn a valuable worthwhile lesson out of it. 2. You need only three things to be successful in conservation: passion, patience and persistence. 3. Listening is an understated and powerful tool  

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

It’s terribly cliché but I would be an Elephant, but an Elephant that lives in Botswana. I would live with my breeding herd in the Okavango delta and live and long and prosperous life surrounded by my family.

| Contact

Social: @tempe.adams  
Email: tempe@unsw.edu.au