After obtaining a Biology BSc from Imperial College and an Aquatic Resource Management MSc from King’s College, London, in 1993 and 1994 respectively, I worked for 4 years at the Netherlands Committee for IUCN as Coordinator of the European Working Group on Amazonia (a network of 300 individuals, NGOs, and governmental institutions involved in conservation and sustainable development in the nine Amazon countries). During this time, I was commissioned by the International Fund for Animal Welfare to investigate the distribution and conservation status of the giant otter, with special emphasis on the Guiana Shield region, South America. This led to my becoming Co-Project Leader of the Frankfurt Zoological Society Giant Otter Conservation Project in 1999, implementing applied research and conservation activities for this species in protected areas of the Madre de Dios region of Peru. Research results of the project were used to develop a successful portfolio of conservation activities, including the first site plans for tourism management in giant otter habitats, and education materials that have been replicated in several other South American countries.
I also monitored demography of key populations of the species and, in my position as Giant Otter Species Coordinator for the IUCN/SSC Otter Specialist Group, catalysed the development of monitoring standards across the species distribution range, working together with giant otter specialists from 8 countries. By 2005, kids Saba and Luca had appeared on the scene, and while they were still small, we felt the time was right to change direction. This decision took my family to North Luangwa National Park, Zambia, where I was Technical Advisor to the North Luangwa Conservation Programme of the Frankfurt Zoological Society, responsible for the monitoring of the reintroduced black rhino population, and managing the NLCP Conservation Education Programme, involving 9 schools in the adjacent Game Management Areas. We moved to England in September 2008 and since mid 2009 I have focused on analysing 14 years of giant otter data, with the support of WildCRU, in the hope of making this more broadly available to the science and conservation community.