Alumni Spotlight: James Tomlinson

James Tomlinson is 23 and from Sydney, Australia. He studied at the University of Technology, Sydney completing a B Sci in environmental biology (Honours). He enjoys camping, anything to do with the ocean and Chinese food.

James interned in Madagascar

Why did you decide to intern abroad with Azafady in Madagascar?

James: When I completed my thesis for my Honours project (Masters) I decided that the last thing I wanted to do was hang around and get a job so I decided that I would do conservation work overseas. I soon settled on Madagascar due to the uniqueness of its environment, the fact that most species are found there and nowhere else and because all of these species are under threat from deforestation. I choose Azafady over other NGO in Madagascar because of the structure of the conservations plan, because you look at endemic palms, lemurs and reptiles and amphibians, and because it is a very transparent NGO and the funds go to the right places.

What made this internship experience so unique and special?

James: Firstly Madagascar itself, the people and culture of the country is so fascinating and the environment is stunning everywhere you go. But it was time in camp, interacting with the local staff and guides, the amazing researchers there and being apart of this small and dirt poor community, who were so friendly and always pleased to see you that really made my time unforgettable. Also working in such a unique environment that there is so little left of was such a pleasure and the work, whether it be catching frogs or observing lemurs was a ball.

How has this experience impacted your future?

James: Personally I will just remember it as a great time, that I can look back on and smile. I made friends and really got to experience a unique culture in a part of the world that not many people will ever visit and that's really satisfying. On a professional note it wasn’t a good for experience, I got to learn new ecology techniques and its something I can put in my resume.

What is one piece of advice you would give someone considering interning abroad in Madagascar?

James: Go with an open mind and lots of patience because everything is mora mora (slowly slowly). Also bring some snacks from home, use by dates don't mean much there.

James with his colleagues and local Madagascar "family"