It has been my life long conviction that we were deeply connected to the earth and all its creatures. Therefore the suffering of millions of animals due to factory farming, zoos, circuses, hunting, sport and so on, was not acceptable to me. As such I became actively involved in campaigns to stop the abuse of animals in all these areas and in the process became, like my husband, a vegetarian.
However, as my knowledge base grew, it became clear that the extent of the abuse was far greater than I had ever imagined: from the suffering of temple elephants in India and Thailand to Moon Bears milked for their bile in China, to the whole scale slaughter of elephants and rhinos in the name of tradition and ignorance in in Africa and Asia. I felt that as our working lives became less demanding and we could control our time better, there was an opportunity to be more active in the protection of some of these species.
Our part time work in South Africa, and now in Tanzania with the Southern Tanzania Elephant Program, allows us to fly in the interests of one of the most amazing, intelligent and admirable animals on this planet – elephants. Through our aerial survey, photography and census work we hope to play a role in their preservation for generations to come. Only time will tell.
As an ex Royal Australian Air Force pilot and flying instructor, with over 2800 hours of flying military helicopters and training aircraft, I have longed to put my flying expertise into doing something I believe in.
In my alternative career as a computer professional, contracting to major corporations, this hasn't always been possible. However, I have kept my flying skills current and possess an Australian Commercial Pilot's license, a French Ultralight license, British Microlight license and now a South African Light Sport Aircraft license. I now have my 5th license, a Tanzanian Private Pilots license!
As independent contractors, we can now structure our life so that we can commit to spending at least three months in Africa every year.
Recently, we have partnered with STEP, (Southern Tanzanian Elephant Project), directed by Dr Trevor Jones, based in the Ruaha National Park. After a recent extension of the borders, it is now the largest National Park in East Africa. Larger even than Kruger in South Africa. More details on STEP here:
We transported Skubie our Shadow, up from the Limpopo region in South Africa last year, to Iringa in Tanzania, and from there to Ruaha, where we worked with the park on a major elephant survey. This was in conjunction with STEP, and was the first time microlights had conducted such survey flights. STEP provided the fuel and logistics for this ongoing surveillance effort. After the sad demise of our beloved Skubie microlight due to high winds in Ruaha, we have now, in conjunction with STEP, bought a Zenair microlight to carry on the work.