Angus Hamilton (pronouns: he/him) is a wildlife and nature tour guide, a wildlife conservation filmmaker and a construction labourer in Australia. Angus is passionate about sharing his experiences with wildlife with people on his tours in order to inspire a connection in them and help his guests fall in love with wildlife. Angus takes tours and shares his adventures with wildlife through Life Gone Wild – and shares his experiences and advice for navigating the eco-tourism space with us today!
Wildlife has been Angus’s passion since he was, knee high to a grasshopper, and although he lost touch with it in high school and studied international relations at university, a trip to Madagascar changed his track. Angus travelled to Madagascar to volunteer at a research institute for four weeks and ended up working there for five months!
This experience nurtured Angus’s passion for wildlife and ignited his career as a tour guide, helping people connect with and fall in love with wildlife. This quickly became Angus’s mission and Angus worked in Malaysia and now Australia experiencing wildlife and sharing this with those around him.
For Angus, it is so important that people experience wildlife – because if they don’t have these experiences and connections, then how will people feel moved to love and conserve it.
“And that’s the great thing about guiding – you have an opportunity to introduce anyone in the world to wildlife in that space and lead to those moments of connection that make them fall in love and conserve these animals… And I feel very lucky to play a part in helping people find that.”
Angus now works as a nature and wildlife tour guide, a wildlife conservation filmmaker and a construction labourer in Australia and balances work across different industries to follow his passions whilst paying the bills. He shares –
“I think that’s a really important lesson. When I’m not tour guiding, I’m working as a tradie essentially – so that helps me pay the bills at the moment, but the hope is that in the long term, the tour guiding will take over.”
“I think wildlife conservation and the wildlife network and industry, certainly in Australia, often feels one dimensional (that feels like the best phrase I can come up with in this moment!) where the only real avenues to it are academia or maybe working at a zoo – but actually there’s all these different ways you can get into working with wildlife.”
Angus knew that sitting at a desk for the rest of his working life would send him crazy – and so he followed the trail of opportunities that led him to eco-tour guiding. He shares –
Angus’s advice for anyone looking to take a similar route with wildlife is to work hard for what you can get and if a door happens to open up for you, don’t be afraid to step through it!
While from the outside, eco-tourism might just look like a cup of tea and a box of biscuits out in the bush, Angus has seen the life-changing impact that wildlife experiences can have on people – and himself! Angus explains –
While the definition of what eco-tourism actually is can vary depending on who you ask – the principle is that the tourism involves nature and wildlife experiences and has conservation benefits. And many eco-tourism operations have tangible benefits for on-ground conservation operated by local communities. Angus shares his experience –
“There are lots of communities around the world who are in spaces where there is incredible or rare wildlife and I’m not trying to demonize in any way I’m just trying to be sort of realistic that for many people can’t afford to care about wildlife because they struggle to take care of themselves and their families – they need to put food on the table.”
Of course – Angus cautions that there should always be a balance between neglect and exploitation of tourism opportunities – but there are certainly many positive outcomes that can come from eco-tourism.
ADVICE FOR ECO-TOUR GUIDES
When it comes to wildlife, all eco-tour guides will understand the feeling of winging it – and although with the risk comes greater reward for experiencing nature in the wild.
Angus shares his top three tips for championing a tour –
- You don’t need to know everything – but collect 5-10 facts or stories that you can use to fill the gaps between wildlife sightings.
- Spend your own time in the field to learn to identify species – and match the tweets and chirping you hear to the birds that make them!
- The winging it aspect takes a long time to go away – but maintain your self-confidence and it gets easier to embrace!
Although the wildlife industry can be a tough nut to crack – Angus shares that you are not alone in your struggles!
“There are times when you can feel very alone, alienated, and filled with despair for the state of everything. And something that helped me was falling into the Lonely Conservationists Network with Jesse Panazzolo.”
“It can be really difficult, but you need to be kind to yourself and give yourself leeway when things aren’t smooth sailing – but if you put in the field time and help yourself fall even more in love with nature, it will feel easier!”
KEEP IN TOUCH
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Angus and Susie both acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which they live and work – and pay respects to Elders past and present. Angus shared –
“I feel very lucky personally to work on land that was never ceded. There are people, culture all across Australia that have connections with wildlife, with the land for many generations.”