There couldn't be a more worthy Rwanda competition winner than Claire Mawdsley - winner of two nights at the luxury Nyungwe Forest Lodge (sponsored by the Shamwari Group), airfare for 2 people to Rwanda (sponsored by Turkish Airlines) and a day in Nyungwe Forest with a guide (sponsored by the RDB). This exciting competition was held at the Rwanda stand at the British Birdfair in Oakham in the UK in mid- August.
Claire correctly answered all the questions about Rwanda and was over the moon when it was announced she had won! She has travelled to Rwanda before and loved it - saying the people are so friendly and the country is incredibly beautiful. Claire is looking forward to experiencing the best of Rwanda with her flight on Turkish Airlines secured. She will also be staying at the luxurious Nyungwe Forest Lodge as part of her prize. Nyungwe Forest is known not only for its 26 Albertine Rift birding endemics, but also for its 13 primate species (25% of Africa's total) which will be a bonus for her too if she gets to see any of them.
When growing up, Claire always wanted to work with animals and to become another David Attenborough! Her last job in Australia was for Taronga Zoo - working in fundraising and volunteering as a zookeeper on a variety of different sections including Australian Fauna, Primates and Ungulates as well as Reptiles. She says she is a bit of an animal nerd.
Her current job as a Direct Marketing Manager for the Royal Society for the Preservation of Birds (RSPB), sees her raising money to help fund their work all over the UK and the world. She will be writing about her experiences in Rwanda in the RSPB Newsletter and will enthuse others with her visit. (The RSPB has 2,000 employees, 17,600 volunteers and more than 1 million members (including 150,000 youth members), making it the largest wildlife conservation charity in Europe).
Claire loves to travel and takes every opportunity to see wildlife - especially endangered species. She has been lucky enough to see some fantastic animals as well as work with them in various sanctuaries and zoos.
One of her best experiences was volunteering at a private game reserve in South Africa, where she studied predator/prey relationships, vegetation destruction by elephants and animal behaviour to help the park manage its wild occupants better.
A very big thank you to the sponsors for providing the exciting competition prizes!
By Marje Hemp