'I have always had the desire for a career in behavioural science of African carnivores, in particular the African lion. After years of research, I determined that ALERT was the best program where I could contribute positively to the species conservation and further develop my research techniques. My time with ALERT provided me with invaluable experiences and has encouraged me further to pursue a career in this field. If you are passionate about African lion conservation and want to make a contribution, no matter how small, ALERT is the place to start.'
Emma Dunston, PhD, Charles Sturt University, Australia
'It has been a dream and life-long ambition for me to work with lions in the African bush. Even before starting my post-grad I knew I wanted to conduct my own lion behavioural study, so when I was told about ALERT’s Facilitated Research Program, I was over the moon.
Working in the pristine Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park felt like a scene from Out Of Africa. I was lucky enough to carry out my study on three groups of cubs at the project, and spent numerous cherished hours with them. The data I collected was invaluable; nowhere else would I have had access to such important raw behavioural data. It was also very humbling to know that my work would eventually be in aid of a pioneering conservation project, and to see the passion of the people working there was inspirational.
Every day staff and volunteers were raring to go, smiles all round.
I would not hesitate for a second to recommend ALERT’s Facilitated Research Program. If someone is looking to pursue an education or career in conservation, this is the program for them.'
Hannah Rae Kokes, MSc, Manchester Metropolitan University
'Deciding to undertake a postgraduate thesis was a huge life decision for me and the whole process seemed quite overwhelming at first. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but turning that into a viable research study was a daunting prospect. Given that my field work was to take place in Africa my university was limited in how much support they could provide.
The team at ALERT were hugely helpful as I prepared for my study. Their thorough understanding of the animals that they work with and the environment that they operate in was incredibly useful to me in establishing my methodology and making sure that it would really work on the ground. They handled all the logistical arrangements for me and have been incredibly supportive as I have embarked on this journey.
I would highly recommend ALERT to anyone interested in carrying out a research study in Africa.'
Lisa Clifforde, MPhil, Exeter University
'Before I even arrived at university I knew that I wanted to do my dissertation on lion conservation in Africa. After months of searching in my second year, ALERT’s facilitated research program in Livingstone, Zambia, provided the perfect opportunity for me to pursue my passion for lions, and somehow make it fit within a Geography dissertation!
My research was broad, allowing me to get a full overview and experience of the project. ALERT ensured I was able to interview a range of people including: a national politician, a head chief, local farmers and a group of school children with their headmaster. Being able to have in-depth and honest conversations with such a variety of people, inside and outside the project, was an incredibly rewarding, invaluable and unique experience, and one that wouldn’t have been possible without the organisation and support of ALERT.
The opportunity to carry out your research within a structured framework, in Africa, with your work also contributing to an exciting and critical conservation project, is not something worth missing out on. Why do a dissertation at home, when you can do it walking with lions on the banks of the Zambezi river?'
Chris Goodman, Oxford University
'Collecting data with ALERT has really reignited my passion for zoology. I love being in the field and this experience has made me want to do a PhD focused on lion behaviour and conservation.
One of the highlights of the experience was being able to see the lions hunting and learning how best to hunt. I knew that was the idea before I came, but it’s hard to imagine hand-raised cubs being able to hunt and then you see it and it’s so stunning. I feel like I could watch lions every day for the rest of my life and never get tired of it.
As well as lion behaviour, I also joined in on an elephant survey, which was really interesting. It was nice to get an idea of the other work ALERT is doing and to get a chance to experience some different research than what I’ve been exposed to at university.
What have I gained from carrying out my research with ALERT in Africa? I’ve gained memories that will last me forever. I’ve gained excitement for my final year of my degree. I’ve gained the drive to continue to do a PhD. I’ve gained fantastic friends. I’ve probably gained a lot more…it was the experience of a life time.'
Olivia Halloran, University of Glasgow