Taking a walk on the Wild Side

SENIOR ZOOLIST
Biodiversity Sciences, Environmental Protection Agency (Queensland)

QUALIFICATIONS
BSc (Zoology) 1994
Hons (Zoology) 1996

SALARY RANGE
Minimum $61,000
Maximum $77,000
Average $65,500 p.a. 

MEETING the world's most celebrated nature documentary broadcaster Sir David Attenborough would have to be a highlight of any zoologist's career.

It has certainly been the case for Melanie Venz.

Melanie, who holds a Bachelor of Science and Honours in zoology from UQ, not only met Attenborough but also helped him film a segment for the BBC Series "Life in Cold Blood".

As a precursor to the series' segment on amphibians, Attenborough included a section on the Queensland lungfish, which was filmed at Fernvale on the Brisbane River.

Melanie jumped at the chance to volunteer on set.

"It was pretty amazing," she says.

"He (Attenborough) was in life as he appears on the screen… He was extremely involved in the script and hands-on."

In her day job, Melanie works as a senior zoologist for the Environmental Protection Agency Queensland's Biodiversity Sciences group.

A highly-sought-after role, Melanie considers herself "extremely lucky" to be in the position. 

Her job is to assess habitat condition in grazed landscapes and pinpoint how the land condition relates to biodiversity.

Melanie says she still "gets a kick" out of the fauna survey aspect of her work, which sees her travel to western Queensland properties to trap, weigh and measure animals, ranging from mammals to reptiles.

"There's always the chance of a few surprises," she laughs.

"My job has taken me all over Queensland – from the border ranges to the channel country and the tropical savannahs."

She says the extension work, which involves showing landholders some of the cryptic or nocturnal fauna (such as microbats and geckos) on their properties, as well as the opportunity to influence land management policy in Queensland, is also "extremely rewarding".

Melanie says UQ's field courses, such as Arid Zone Ecology and Rainforest Ecology are still useful in her job.

"They provided relevant information, experience collecting and analysing information and experience working in teams."