“I had a very positive experience and I would encourage young people to go for internship opportunities.”
Dale was born in Johannesburg into a vibrantly creative family (he grew up alongside siblings who include an artist, a dancer and a musician). As a child he loved birds, and this passion drew him outdoors and sparked a broader interest in the natural world. When his interest in biology and geography was developed at school, Dale decided that he wanted to work in nature and protect nature for a living. He currently works for BirdLife South Africa as the Western Cape Regional Conservation Manager with a primary focus on the Important Bird Areas Programme.
Dale attained undergraduate and Honours degrees in Zoology, Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Cape Town. Following three years spent managing a large protected area in Tanzania, he returned to South Africa to complete a Masters in Conservation Biology. This course includes both a taught and research component and Dale’s research investigated the psychology of environmental volunteers.
Dale’s internship within the WWF-SA Biodiversity and Wine Initiative involved extension work and the provision of environmental management plans for wine farmers in the Western Cape registered with the Initiative. Dale had a very positive experience with his internship, and would encourage young people to take advantage of internship opportunities as a means of bridging the gap into the working world after their studies. The internship developed his network of contacts in the Western Cape, and gave him useful practical work experience, supporting his smooth transition into his role at BirdLife South Africa.
Dale currently manages the start-up and implementation of the Important Bird Areas Programme in the Western Cape and parts of the Eastern Cape. His job is varied: he conducts field site assessments, develops technical and funding reports, and builds partnerships with other organisations. Dale hopes to complete a PhD in the coming years and plans to further his experience in the NGO conservation sector. He would like to remain working in the practical aspects of conservation. He is particularly interested in mainstreaming conservation into other sectors within society, and sees this as a true route to sustainability.