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Rochelle Whitehead talks about Antelope Park, Zimbabwe

READERSVOICE.COM aims to collect a few good reading tips. For this issue I emailed Rochelle Whitehead who recently travelled from Brisbane, Australia, to Zimbabwe, to work as a volunteer at a wildlife park.

READERSVOICE.COM: Where did you visit recently and what were your impressions?

ROCHELLE WHITEHEAD: I have just recently arrived back in Australia after travelling through Malawi and Mozambique for one month after my two month stay at Antelope Park, Zimbabwe. Malawi was a great place to start, having never travelled in Africa before. It is one of the smaller African countries and my partner and I managed to cover the majority of it in our two weeks there. Malawi houses the world’s ninth largest inland lake and has breath-taking village scenery.

Mozambique was almost the opposite to Malawi. Maputo, the capital city, was bright, colourful and full of life. Tofo, the last stop on our travels, is a beachside town with stunning, clear, turquoise blue waters and white sandy beaches. We were lucky enough to swim with three whale sharks while we were there.

RV: Can you recommend a few books you’ve liked, whether about zoology or not, and say what you liked about them?

RW: The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight by Thom Hartmann is a book I can highly recommend and think everyone should read. This book had a great impact on my life and changed my outlook on the world.

What I liked about this book was that although it detailed the damage being done to our biosphere, and reasons why our culture would inevitably do damage to the environment, the last third of the book gave numerous practical suggestions about how we can fix the problem. This book is very real and in many ways too truthful, however the solutions proposed give us real tools to fix what we can control.

Another book I have read recently is a text book for my zoology degree. It is called Oceanography by Tom Garrison. The scientific truth of the way our world works greatly interests me. It explains in many ways how the ocean affects all aspects of our lives and gives a colourful exploration of the ocean.

RV: Can you talk a bit about your zoology and international business studies and what aspects of these courses interested you the most?

RW: I am currently studying a dual degree in zoology and international business.

Zoology, the study of animals, covers physiological aspects, evolutionary characteristics and biology of animals. This gives me a sound understanding for past and future traits that animals have and will evolve in response to environmental fluctuations. International business includes subjects such as accounting, economics, management, and marketing.

The degree then specialises in my final year, and covers material like the Asian and European markets.

The aspects of my degrees I am most interested in are conservation biology and organisational management. These courses teach me material that enables me to directly implement strategies towards current conservation crises. For example, last year, in a conservation biology subject, my class learnt how to prioritise and allocate funding to threatened and endangered animals. I was then able to put forward suggestions to Antelope Park in the hope of implementing behavioural enrichment tools for the lions.

However, both my degrees are immensely enjoyable and all my subjects are interesting.

RV: Did these two courses complement each other well, as far as your interests were concerned?

RW:After completing one month in Borneo, in January, 2007, where I worked in an orang-utan rehabilitation centre, and two months in Zimbabwe working at a lion breeding and rehabilitation centre, it has become obvious that the two degrees I have chosen to study are well suited to direct and prepare me to achieve my career ambitions. Although the degrees are from very different fields, my hopes of running a rehabilitation centre for wild and endangered animals is complemented by both degrees.

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