Jennifer Lawrence - Conservation Veterinarian


Posted: 20/02/2023


This varies depending on where you are working. Working for an NGO, zoo, government or private company will dictate salary - Working in conservation is not lucrative in terms of salary expectations


It depends on the projects and interventions required. Can range from a few days to a couple of weeks.


Adaptability, Resilience & Creativity


South Africa

Essential Skills

Veterinary skills & Experience of the behaviour of the animals you're working with most of the time

Watch Jennifer Here

Watch back the inspiring career Q&A with Jenny!

Jennifer Lawrence

Check out our Career Q & A questions below to take a deep dive into this career path.  If you’re interested in this type of career but unsure how to take the next step, click below to learn more about our services designed to support you.

See what Jennifer has been up to on Instagram.

I started out as a small animal veterinarian and found that this was not the career for me. Small animal practice has however been an easy career to fall back on when I needed extra financial support. I have not completely moved away from this and do a bit of locuming when not doing conservation work.
Some of my earliest memories as a little girl are of the bush and the big outdoors. This grew into a passion which took some time to grow and I only recently started nurturing it fully. I had moved through several different careers in veterinary including smallies, equines and industry. None of these really felt as though they fit. As I have journeyed through life and become more in tune with what I want the highest future possibility to be, I understood that my purpose and my career needed to align. And this is when I realised that conservation is where I want to go.
Transitioning in to conservation, especially as an older vet is not easy. Knowing this and accepting the challenge is the biggest way forward. Continuously knocking on doors of possible opportunity and growing my network was key to get me where I am today. Enrolling in a masters in conservation medicine has also helped me along the way.
One of the best parts of doing conservation work is knowing that I am a part of something that is so much bigger than me. The knowledge that I am serving a greater purpose is what keeps me passionately committed. Working in a complex environment with many different disciplines is also something that I find exciting. No one day is the same and being open to adaptability and initiative is essential. One of the down sides is that work is not consistent and there can be many times when income is restricted. This is when I fall back on small animal locum work.
No day is the same doing conservation work. Many of the interventions and management captures require prior planning. Even with this, you need to be adaptable and ready to change plans at the last minute. Emergency capture and treatment also vary depending on the species you’re working with. At times you may have to be on standby until the animal you are wanting to work with is located. Sometimes there are many hours of travel and waiting between captures. A different level of patience is required for this kind of work. And while many days are spent in the field, in beautiful places, there are days spent in the office doing administrative work as well.
I think one of the keys to unlocking a career in conservation is having a deep passion and commitment to a higher purpose. A sense of adventure is paramount and acceptance that there may be many days spent away from home. To be able to really understand the ways of conservation, you need to be open to the complexity and challenges that come with it. A level of resilience is required especially given the detrimental state of our natural world. Active hope is required to meet this and a knowledge that you are doing your best.
1. Start creating a network of people and organisations that interest you and get your CV to them
2. Volunteer your time in areas of conservation that interest you
3. Connect with other vets who are in conservation and be willing to learn from them
If you have the passion and commitment to take up the challenge you will find your way into this journey. Be willing to continuously knock on doors and network as much as possible. Be open to volunteering in aspects of conservation that interest you. Find a good mentor or two to guide you. There will be times when you may find you hit walls trying to find your way into conservation, but see those times as lessons and find out what the walls are telling you. There is so much to learn while on the journey. Most of all enjoy the experiences you have while finding your way. Some of them will be more special and meaningful.

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