UNE students have opportunity to participate in unforgettable overseas study experiences such as the biannual trips organised by the School of Environmental and Rural Science to Bhutan and Botswana. Zoology student, Kathleen Murphy, took part in last year’s trip to southern Africa and, together with fellow students, hit on the idea of producing a calendar with photos of their experiences to commemorate the trip and fund raise. Pulse caught up with Kat to learn more. 

Tell me about yourself and your studies

My name is Kathleen Murphy, I am a third year Bachelor of Zoology student studying full-time on campus. I am doing a major of Applied Zoology and taking some electives in science communication, museum studies, and palaeontology. After getting through my first year of studies, I really wanted to make stronger connections with those within my course and people interested in conservation and wildlife so I put my hand up to run the UNE Zoology Society which had recently disbanded. I run the society with three other people, students from the Bachelor of Zoology and the Master of Environmental Science.

What was the purpose of your trip to Africa?

UNE runs Overseas Study Experiences for students to provide them with the chance to gain international experiences related to their study disciplines. The School of Environmental and Rural Science regularly runs these trips every two years for Zoology and Environmental Science students, travelling to Bhutan and Botswana in years past. In 2023, Professor Paul McDonald and Associate Professor Deb Bower organised a trip for 16 students to travel to Namibia for three weeks to expose us to various wildlife management and conservation issues in the region and to develop proficiency in collecting data in the field. We worked on seven different projects while over there ranging from Avian Diversity, Animal Vigilance Behaviour, and Reptile Niche Partitioning. When we returned, we each came up with a question to answer with the data collected on the trip. I explored how the range of methodologies used in the Avian Diversity Project impacted our recorded species richness and abundance results.

How did the idea for a calendar come about?

While I was talking to the other students on the trip about the Zoology Society and how we were rebranding in 2024, collectively we came up with the idea of creating a 2024 calendar with all of the student photos taken on the trip. It then came about that we could donate a portion of our profits to an African conservation group to give back to the area we were studying in. We brainstormed lots of merchandise ideas on the trip that we are hoping to introduce this year!

The calendar can be viewed and purchased here and $10 from each calendar is donated to the African Wildlife Foundation which protects wildlife and their habitats.

Tell me more about the artwork and photos used in the calendar.

All of the photos used in the calendar were taken by either UNE staff or students from on the trip. I chose a variety of photos to showcase the range of wildlife we were able to see over there ranging from birds, mammals, and reptiles. Additionally, as we were lucky enough to visit so much of Namibia and witness the wide variety of habitats the country has, I tried to reflect this in the choice of photos too.

Anything else you would like to share?

In 2023, the UNE Zoology Society won UNE Life’s “Best New Club  Award” and on the back of that victory we are working on creating a suite of events to cater to a range of interests. Over the next few weeks we will be running a “Sizzle and Spotlight” event out at the Blue Hole which is a completely free, family friendly event perfect for anyone wanting to experience more of the amazing wildlife we have in our region. Additionally, we will be running a “Wilderness Workshop: Bushcraft for sugar glider and pygmy possum enrichment” which will be held on the UNE Campus. Places are limited for that event and donations are appreciated to cover cost of materials.

For more information about those events and to keep up to date with what the society is doing, follow along on our Facebook or Instagram, or become a 2024 member!