Zoo Biology student Isy Taylor’s picture of two elephants intertwined has made the finals of the Shamwari Game Reserve photograph competition. Isy took the winning picture earlier this year during a study tour to South Africa and although acquiring hundreds of votes, narrowly missed out on the chance of winning a conservation experience back to the reserve.

Originally from an academic background in Applied Science and Psychology, Isy has combined her interest for the sciences with a deep-rooted love for animals through studying an Animal Management degree at Sparsholt. Isy also has a great enthusiasm for capturing images, explaining how she took thousands of photos during the two week course trip at Shamwari earlier this year.

Isy said: “It was hard to choose just one photo to submit for the competition’s theme of ‘Fun and Games’ however this picture had long been a firm favourite of mine, taken whilst our team were tracking a herd of elephants. I would love to work on a nature reserve after graduating, as there are so many kinds of roles available from wildlife photography to carrying out field research.”

On her studies, Isy feels that the practical approach to studying at Sparsholt has helped prepare her for the industry. She continues: “I’ve loved handling the vast collection of species at the Animal Management Centre and during placements. By specialising in Zoo Biology in the final year of my degree, I’ve been able to underpin the science of the animals also and I have really enjoyed the specialist research element of my course.”

External industry opportunities inform a large part of Sparsholt’s degrees, with great emphasis placed on work placements to highlight career diversity. During the Shamwari study trip in Africa students were able to assist in the examination of a rescued 200kg male lion, as well as finding out more about the digital operations of the reserve such as marketing and social media.

Sparsholt Curriculum Leader of Higher Education and Zoo Biology Programmes Tutor Steve Nash, strongly believes in the importance of degrees to enable career progression, due to the competitive nature of the zoo industry. He explains: “At Sparsholt we offer three different top-up courses so students are able to home in on their key interests during the final year of their degree. This gives students the opportunity to increase their odds of access into specialist roles and therefore the development of a long and successful career.”

You can find out more about Animal Management degrees at Sparsholt here.