Uncategorized - August 19, 2016
Alumnus: Michelle Swemmer
Crawford College North Coast
Class of 2000
Michelle Swemmer would love to send her children to Crawford – but given her location, that might be difficult. That’s because Michelle works for an organisation called Wildlife ACT, and calls the bush her home.
Michelle says that she already knew in her Grade 10 year that a nine to five job, as well as the city will never be for her. She says her parents, nature lovers themselves, supported her quest for an “outdoor” career and so she went to study Game Ranging together with Game Farm Management for two years. Thereafter, she spent another two years gaining experience as a field guide in Big Five reserves in Zululand and then took some time off to travel around Europe with Contiki. She says she loved meeting the interesting people around the world.
Michelle also learnt to snow ski during her travels, so when she returned to South Africa, she took a post at a remote beach lodge. Her plan was to immerse herself in marine life, so that she could decide whether she wanted to pursue marine biology or nature conservation.
The latter won; Michelle qualified for her degree in nature conservation, having studied part-time while working for Wildlife ACT as a priority species monitor. She soon was promoted to project manager.
The Wildlife ACT is an endangered species monitoring and research organisation whose aim is to save Africa’s endangered wildlife from extinction. She says that she have had some incredible experiences, from the daily tracking and monitoring of cheetah, rhino and the endangered wild dog, to witnessing wild dog pups emerge from the den sites for the first time, to flying in helicopters to dart rhinos in order to cut identification notches in their ears and attach tracking equipment. I have also been involved in assisting with various rhino, cheetah and wild dog captures and relocations, and witnessed a vet perform unilateral ovarian-hysterectomy surgery on three lionesses! The rewards far exceed the hardships, like getting up at 3am and having no TV or internet, she says.
Her passion for nature conservation is both interesting and fulfilling and she won’t have it any other way. She is born for the wild!