My story

     ...& why I ended up making a website about wildlife conservation  volunteering…

Hi, my name is Janine & this site is an outline that follows my international career in wildlife conservation from my work as a volunteer with Howler monkeys, research on Golden Eagles in Germany, monitoring Blue penguins in New Zealand, working at a conservation NGO in Switzerland. After that I felt in love with a winemaker & now I spend lots of time with our dog in the vineyards, also a very interesting wildlife habitat as you can see below.

Monkeys go wild…

A compulsory part of my Bachelor study program “Environmental Biology” was a study semester and an internship abroad. I chose to go to Belize, CA, and after I finished the semester I became a volunteer for the Wildlife Care Center of Belize (WCCB). This Center was established in 1998 by Robin Brockett and is a rehabilitation and research facility for ex-captive howler (Alouatta pigra) and spider (Ateles geoffroyi) monkeys. Although the Wildlife Protection Act of 1981 prohibits the sale of monkeys, the pet trade is a highly profitable industry in Belize. Monkeys, brought to the Center by the Forest Department, undergo approximately one year of intensive rehabilitation before being released back into the wild. The rehabilitation process closely follows the guidelines established by the IUCN. The wildlife center is not open to the public in order to ensure that the monkeys are not exposed to disease or further stress.

My position required designing enrichment, applying operant conditioning, monitoring behaviour, administrating medication and preparing specialized diet. After I finished my volunteer work in 2005 I came back in 2006 and assisted in the successful release of four Howler monkeys (Alouatta pigra) that I took care of the previous year. It was great to see those monkeys out in the wild and I really enjoyed living in the beautiful tropical rainforest. But as wonderful as this all may sound, you have to be aware of where you are. So getting bitten by thousands of ticks during the dry season or by mosquitos during the rainy season and carrying fly larvae around under the skin of my head was a part of this bush world, too. But that is probably what makes it an unforgettable experience. Plus the monkeys are still seen and the joined a wild troop. So how great is this? =)

Garbo, Farley & me

They are considered the loudest land animal.

According to Guinness Book of World Records, their howl can be heard clearly for 3 miles (4.8 km).

Blue penguins - wonderful little creatures…

In 2008 I travelled to New Zealand as this was a compulsory part of my integrated bi-national Master of International Nature Conservation (M.Sc. / M.I.N.C.). First I studied one semester at Lincoln University and then I decided that I wanted to contribute to the conservation of the Blue penguin. For my dissertation, I conducted research on the distribution of the penguins’ nests in South Westland, a remote and beautiful wilderness region (that I felt in love with). There I investigated the habitat characteristics of successful and unsuccessful nests. This study provided useful insights that may aid future management and contributed to the aims of the West Coast Blue Penguin Trust (WCBPT) which was established in 2006 and aims to conserve the South Island West Coast Blue Penguins and their habitat. The trust raises funds for further research on the penguins and works with the community to raise awareness by education.

The fieldwork proved challenging. For a start some colonies were remote and all were in challenging physical environment with a climate where rain is heavy frequent. In some colonies GPS fixes could be obtained in only a few open areas and I had to survey lines from these points through thick and tangled scrub, over and under rock jumbles to map the penguin nests. But despite these challenges plus the quite interesting smell of those burrows I was undeterred and always retained my cheerful disposition throughout because I loved what I did out there. Especially, when I assisted in weighing and measuring those penguins for research purposes and therewith got a perfect close-up view on these little stinky guys.

In the evenings after I finished work I often sat on a platform up on a rocky cliff watching the sunset and Hectors dolphins swam by- unforgettable.


Blue penguin & me

The world's smallest penguin

at just 35-43cm tall.


Golden eagles…impressive birds of prey

In 2008 and again in 2009 I worked as a volunteer in the Golden Eagle Species Protection Project, Berchtesgaden National Park, where I located occupied nest sites of Golden eagles and observed and documented their breeding activities.

The Berchtesgaden National Park is the only German National Park in the Alps, a fascinating mountainous world characterized by craggy steep cliffs, inviting high mountain pastures and a great variety of flora and fauna. In 1978 the Bavarian State government founded “Berchtesgaden Alpine National Park” covering an area of 210 kmĀ². Since then, their goal has been to focus on nature protection, research, environmental education, and recreation.

Golden eagle

The speed artists

fly up to 200 km/hrs

When I arrived at the field station I was heartily welcomed from a great team and suddenly felt like home- a lovely place to come back in the evenings after a day in the field. Have I mentioned that I started in February? In Germany, February means winter time. So standing out there for several hours in the snow trying to catch a glimpse of an eagle let my feet freeze on a daily basis and from all this looking up in the sky you can probably imagine how my neck felt. But you always get used to something new. The neck got better each day, spring was on its way and there were the first chicks- little puffy creatures looking out the nests.



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