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Course prepares South African for wild life

In the three short years since former Unitec student Rab Naidoo completed his Certificate in Animal Management (Captive Wild Animals or CWA), he has built an impressive collection of zoology and animal conservation roles.

Back in his native South Africa, Rab credits his Unitec qualification for equipping him with the skills and experience needed to develop a successful career.

“I believe that the CWA course prepared me for this position and after only four months, I have already used most of the skills that I had learnt at Unitec,” he said.

Soon after returning to South Africa in 2010, Rab became involved with anti-rhino poaching at Knysna Elephant Park. Employed as the South African Director and scientific adviser of the emerging International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF), he says that his qualifications played a significant part in his appointment.

“After reading my resume, the head scientist got me involved in conducting behavioural studies and creating a new enrichment regime for the elephants, work that was based on a paper that I wrote during my CWA course.”

After completing his work with the IAPF, Rab was offered jobs with a number of zoos, often without so much as an interview.

“They offered me positions without even meeting me and when I asked why, all four said that it was because of my qualifications, and more importantly the practical experience gained at Auckland Zoo.”

He is currently Conservation Officer at the Ditholo Training Area, a restricted military zone in Northern Gauteng province. The Ditholo Training area is part of a larger 3220 hectare reserve that incorporates the Dinokeng Big 5 Game Reserve. Rab is the reserve manager for the entire area.

“The position requires good understanding of zoology and ecology, observational animal fitness, observational animal health inspections (especially with wild animals) and even husbandry, as I have recently adopted an abandoned baby impala.

“Capturing and relocating lions, helping a pregnant zebra give birth, anaesthetising and treating an injured lion and observing an abnormally built giraffe are just some of the tasks I have been involved with. I believe that the CWA programme prepared me for these tasks,” Rab said.

If you are passionate about animals or want to work with zoo animals, you can choose a suitable programme at Unitec (www.naturalsciences.unitec.ac.nz).

Unitec is the Sponsor of the Business Excellence in Innovation Category of the Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards 2013.

Photo : Rab Naidoo with a tiger cub

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