Animal conservationist Natasha Wagg - Kent Life's Bright Young Thing

Dutch-born Natasha Wagg, a student at Hadlow College, on following her dream to become an animal conservationist and helping rehabilitate primates in Zambia

Animal conservationist Natasha Wagg  

Tell us about yourself

For many people their childhood dreams of what they wished to be rarely becomes reality. However, I have stuck by my passion and still pursue that dream to this day, My name is Natasha, I’m 20 and I still want to be an animal conservationist. I am currently studying at the University of Greenwich, and am based at Hadlow College.

Though I may sound and act like a true English girl, I am in fact Dutch, born in the small town of Delft.  My mother is also born and bred Dutch whereas my father a real Englishman!! Without the encouragement and support from my whole family, I would not be where I am today. At the age of five my mother and I moved to the UK in the beautiful countryside of North Devon, where I spent most of my childhood. It was here that my love for the environment and the animals it holds, increased even more.

After leaving my secondary school, Edgehill College, I began my path into the animal industry by attending Bicton College to carry out a National Diploma in Animal Management. Another big aspect of my life is my faith, I was grown up as and still am an active Christian, something that surprisingly does not conflict with the scientist inside me but rather complements my passion in the field.

What are you doing now?

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I am doing a degree at Hadlow College, currently in my third and last year of the animal conservation and biodiversity course. I also recently returned from a trip to Zambia, where I volunteered for the Lunga luswishi wildlife project, run by the Born Free Foundation. This project focuses on confiscating illegally kept or abused yellow baboons and Vervet monkeys and rehabilitating the primates for possible future release back into the wild. I spent two months out in the bush of Zambia directly helping the primates and learning, through the experience, a great deal about conservation and the difficulties that come hand in hand.

During my time at university I was taught all about the theory of conservation, however after working in the field I quickly learnt that putting what looks like a perfect plan into practice is often impossible. The plan must be adjusted to work in the relevant environment as there are many variables out in the field that cannot be apprehended in the classroom. The second practical aspect of conservation in Africa that I came to realise is essential is to always have a plan B!!

Your future ambitions?                                                                            

I have many ambitions in life, but in terms of conservation I only have one aim – to make a difference.  I also hope to travel, see and help with conservation going on around the whole world, experiencing new ways of life and bringing my gained knowledge back to a place where I can make that difference. Sometime in the future I wish to complete an Msc in a related topic as I also believe that without the ‘head knowledge’ all this ambition is worthless. However, that said, something I have lived by all my life is a simple motto – have first the heart to do and then the mind to succeed. This is especially important for the conservation world where success is rarely achieved on the first attempt.

What’s best about Kent                                                                                       

I have lived in Kent for two years now, one year was spent in Maidstone and the other in the charming village of Bearsted. I enjoy taking outings and exploring new areas of this beautiful Garden of England, seeing the great diversity of countryside and the quaint villages that give Kent its sophistication.

Your hobbies and interests?                                                                             

I have a great array of interests, ranging from sports to socialising. I have a strong love for the open ocean and have sailed from the age of two, where I was attached to a rope, tied to the mast of my parent’s yacht, allowing me to feel like a true sailor without the danger of falling overboard!! During my time out at sea I developed a great interest for aquatic life, where I believe my current passion for the animal kingdom first stemmed from. I am open water PADI qualified to scuba dive and have already experienced the wonders of the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and the Red Sea. The Great Barrier Reef is obviously still on my list.

The last book you read?                                                                                                             The last book I read was The Girl who played with Fire, a nice holiday read. However I am currently awaiting the classic Jane Goodall novel of In the Shadow of Man to arrive in the post, a book I have wanted to read for years. 


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