Investing in the future: visiting volunteer learns reserve management skills

The TLC believes strongly in investing in the future by fostering young conservation scientists. Late in 2015, a keen young volunteer flew from South Australia to experience the wilderness, and then gain some extra insight into the technicality of managing reserves. This is Jaida's account of her time with the TLC.

by Jaida Bouhamdan, Adelaide

My experience with TLC was awesome and I learned so much in my two days with them. I decided to volunteer for TLC because I am a keen environmentalist and I thought that the work they do preserving land and monitoring species was really fantastic. I travelled with my Mum to Tasmania to complete the Overland Track and I wanted to enrich my experience in Tassie with some volunteering because I thought it would be a good way to get to know some of the Tasmanian environment. My mum and sister tagged along for the two days and they both learnt a lot from the experience as well.

My first day was spent with Dr Sally Bryant, the TLC’s conservation science and planning manager, at Silver Peppermint Reserve photographing vegetation at fixed markers and setting up camera traps and bird recorders. I was amazed at Sally’s knowledge of bird calls and her ability to recognise so many. It certainly put to shame any bird watching I’ve ever done where I was always reliant on recognising the birds by sight (and even then, I could not always reliably distinguish bird species…) Although we faced some minor challenges when the waypoints did not appear in the GPS and we had to navigate using Sally’s phone, which was not as accurate, it was wonderful to spend the day outside in the sunshine and fresh air getting more familiar with the landscape.

Day two took us to Brown Mountain Reserve with Daniel Sprod where we collected cameras designed to capture invasive lyrebird activity. We later returned to the office where I was taught how to score the images from the cameras to record the species captured. This was when we discovered that instead of taking images, one of the cameras had been capturing small snippets of video. This turned out to be what Dan called a ‘penicillin moment’ because, whilst there was no intention to take video footage, the result was a collection of amazing films that contained so much more detail and information than could be achieved by a still image. In a way, I am so glad that this accident occurred because it allowed me to see things I would never have seen otherwise.

On returning home, I completed scoring the photos and videos from Brown Mountain Reserve, and this was definitely one of the highlights of my experience with TLC. Among literally hundreds of images of brush-tailed possums – who seemed a little too photogenic as they caused mischief in the scrub – and plenty of snaps of waving fern fronds, I was super lucky to witness incredible footage of a female Tassie Devil with a pouch full of babies and a video of a lyrebird’s mating dance, as well as many incredible images of wallabies and common bronze wing pigeons. Even some creatures fossicking in the snow. One thing that was a bit saddening to see, though, was the number of feral cats that were captured by one of the cameras. I can only imagine the damage they would be causing for the native wildlife…

Not only did I get a lot of experience and knowledge out of volunteering with TLC, but it also further inspired me to pursue my interests in conservation as a career, and seek other similar volunteering opportunities closer to home. I really admire what TLC do, and would like to thank them for allowing me to gain some insight into their work.