This is a new series of blogs, of interviews with some wonderful people who work within the animal industry, from zoo keepers, to museum curators and everything in between and those that are on the path to working in these positions too. Be inspired for a future where you can combine your love of animals with your day job. I hope you enjoy these interviews, that you can learn something from them and they can inspire you
Now let me introduce you to Tolga...
What do you do?
I am a conservation biologist, writer and environmental photojournalist. Most of my time and work efforts involves working tirelessly to help protect endangered species and the last remaining wilderness areas on our planet. Whether that’s mainly through writing, environmental photojournalism or even directly contributing towards a hands-on conservation or rewilding project with other passionate individuals – fundamentally that is always where my heart and motive is.
How did you get into it?
I first enrolled at a land-based college in London called Capel Manor College that specialised in animal studies. Some background knowledge about wildlife and the environment was needed before trying to strive for university afterwards. In between the studies, a lot of volunteering was needed as well to allow me to know my field more, network with the people in my field and ensure that I was always doing what was right for the wildlife and environment.
What made you want to do what you do?
I knew I always wanted to work with wildlife and to protect the environment from a young age. I owe many thanks for this to Sir David Attenborough and the Late Steve Irwin. I guess I do the things I do on top of my two wildlife heroes, mainly because if we do not do anything, then who else will? It is so important to add our voices for the wildlife and places that have lost theirs. That is primarily all the fuel that I need to wake up every day to focus on doing what I do.
What does it involve?
Travelling the world and working on conservation and rewilding projects, networking with people in the field of conservation, writing articles and taking loads of photos that has a strong narrative to help protect wildlife and nature.
Did you need and particular qualifications?
For me to have done all that I have done, then I would say yes. I first worked towards obtaining qualifications in Animal Care, then Animal Management first at college. This then allowed me to get the necessary credits needed to get into university to study for a bachelor’s degree in Animal Biology.
Any tips for a young person that wants to do what you do?
I think the most important thing for anybody that wants to do what I do – is simply look at every opportunity as something to learn from and be the best learner during those opportunities. Additionally, do a lot of research about the field you desire to embark on, search for opportunities to obtain your volunteering experience and work hard towards the path you want to go on. When I first started out, I made it a priority not to be fussy and developed a long-term goal. Whether it was cleaning out farm stables, creating enrichment for zoo animals, feeding captive wolves to tracking African wild dogs all the way in South Africa – I always knew that each little experience was adding up to something bigger.
What’s the best part of what you do?
Making a positive difference and having the opportunity to cherish all of the wildlife and wild spaces our planet effortlessly provides us. It is always rewarding when you meet new people that also value these things – as it makes the experiences so much nicer.
What’s your favourite animal?
That is a very hard question for me, because my career journey thus far has allowed me to admire many animal species. If I had to narrow it down to one, then it would probably be the African wild dog. I love the pack structure of the species and the sociality among them all. They are very intelligent and beautiful animals!
What was the first animal that you fell in love with?
Believe or not, but it was a Sheep. My father’s side of the family are from Northern Cyprus, so I spent the majority of my childhood in a village in North Cyprus herding sheep and goats with my farmer uncle during the day.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I spend the majority of my spare time drafting potential books that I can hopefully publish one day. I have always loved to write and my career journey working with wildlife has inspired a lot of my writing that I hope to publish soon.
If you weren’t doing what you do now what else would you love to do?
Funny enough, probably a Wildlife TV Presenter or an Actor. Who knows where life may take me, I guess…
Who inspires you?
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about?
I am currently working on a project called Pine the Fox, where I will be doing what I usually do but it will be tailored towards younger readers. Pine is a loveable character which will be adored by children from all ages and I hope one day I could bring him to life in a book or a film. More about Pine the Fox can be found here: https://pinethefox.wordpress.com
Where can people find you?
Stories for the kids: https://pinethefox.wordpress.com
If you work within the wildlife industry and would like to be featured as part of this blog series please pop me an email to [email protected]