Wildlife Wonders

Tammie MatsonZOOLOGIST & AUTHOR www.tammiematson.com
Former Program Leader - Species, Worldwide Fund for Nature, Australia

BSc, Hons (Environmental Science) 1999
PhD (Zoology) 2004

EXPLORING the wonders of some of most wild and remote regions of the world is where Tammie Matson has discovered her life’s passion.

The UQ Environmental Science graduate is a freelance zoologist and author, about to publish her second non-fiction book “Elephant Dance – a story of love and war in the elephant kingdom”. The book is based on her work as a zoologist in Africa and India on human-elephant conflict.

“Human-elephant conflict kills an average of 270 people every year in India alone and about 50 elephants. Elephants get killed by electrocution when caught in power lines, hit by trains and poisoned. The root cause of the conflict is the loss of elephant habitat. Asian elephants are running out of space and running out of time.”

Along with writing books, Tammie works with Animal Media Australia as an advisor and talent in the documentary “Elephant Wars”.

“I see my main job at the moment as to make as many people aware of the issue of human-elephant conflict as possible, and I’m doing it any way I can – the written word, film, media and on line.”

Previously Tammie worked for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) – the largest multinational conservation organisation in the world.
Her role focused on developing WWF’s flagship species program, using 10 charismatic animals to represent the threats affecting so many species and habitats.

“The aim of the program was to raise awareness, get corporate companies on board as sponsors, and develop on-ground conservation projects,” Tammie says.

“The record of Australian animals under threat lists four mammals as critically endangered, 33 as endangered and 54 as vulnerable.

“Awareness for these high numbers is a big first step in protecting the animals.”

Tammie says exploring the “wild places” in remote parts of the world is what she loves most about her job.  At just 21, she moved to Namibia to carry out her PhD research, based in the majestic Etosha National Park.

“Getting to live in a national park in Africa for two years was incredible and an experience I will always remember,” she says.

With the thrill of African wilderness pumping through her veins, Tammie stayed on in the continent after her studies were completed, developing wildlife management plans for black rhinos and black-faced impalas, and running a human-elephant conflict project with the San Bushmen of Namibia.

“I decided it was time to get a ‘real job’ in 2007 and joined WWF Australia in Sydney as the Species program leader.”

Tammie says while her position might not be the most lucrative to come from Science qualifications, the experiences it has offered far outweigh the money.

“It’s definitely a great way to see some of the coolest places on Earth and job satisfaction is pretty high,” she says.