Feature

Meet the people of AWC: Senior Field Ecologist Andy Howe

23 Feb. 2024
Brad Leue/AWC

Welcome to ‘Meet the People of AWC’, a captivating series dedicated to unveiling the heart and soul of our organisation through the stories of the incredible individuals who make it all possible. In this series, we’ll take you on a journey to uncover the unique stories, passions, and expertise of the incredible individuals that make Australian Wildlife Conservancy who we are.

Senior Field Ecologist Andy Howe works across multiple AWC sanctuaries and partnership areas on Australia’s east coast. Currently based in Newcastle, New South Wales, Andy oversees the science program at the Richard Underwood Nature Refuge (RUNR) and Gorton Forest Estate. Prior to 2024, he spent six years based in Cairns, Queensland.

“My involvement with AWC spans over many years before working with the organisation. I was first made aware of AWC when I was studying wildlife biology at university, and I first volunteered for four weeks at Mornington-Marion Downs Wildlife Sanctuary in 2009. I then volunteered multiple times at Piccaninny Plains Wildlife Sanctuary, Mount Zero-Taravale Wildlife Sanctuary and Pungalina Seven-Emu Wildlife Sanctuary before starting work with AWC in 2017.”

Senior Field Ecologist Andy Howe setting a camera trap. Darcy Roeger/AWC
Andy setting a camera trap.

“I have been privileged to be able to travel extensively in my role and have worked across multiple AWC sanctuaries and partnership projects. I have also been able to support other conservation organisations, like after the 2019/20 black summer bushfires, where AWC ecologists were deployed to help survey wildlife in badly affected areas.”

“While there I helped locate, catch, and monitor Koalas in Kanangra-Boyd National Park in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. I was also part of a team that surveyed for threatened species on the New England Tablelands in north-east NSW.”

“In addition to my role as an ecologist, I have also been an intern coordinator and supervisor, a member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion working group at AWC, and an AWC member of the Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat Recovery Team.”

Senior Field Ecologist Andy Howe beside an entry to a Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat burrow on Richard Underwood Nature Refuge, Queensland. Brad Leue/AWC
Andy beside an entry to a Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat burrow on RUNR, Queensland.

“I have more recently been involved in working through population genetics, and how to best manage critically endangered species. This comes through my work with the Northern hairy-nosed Wombats at RUNR, where AWC manages one of two populations left.”

“This species was reduced to as few as 30 individuals in the 1980s but has recovered to around 400 currently. This means the Northern hairy-nosed Wombat is rarer than world-famous threatened species such as the Sumatran Tiger or Giant Panda. This also means we must be very careful in how we manage the population at RUNR genetically and retain as much genetic diversity as possible for the continued long-term survival of this species.”

Learn more about Andy’s work with Northern Hairy-nosed Wombats in this episode of
AWC in Conversation.

“It’s tough to pick just one favourite species that I like working with. However, I really enjoy working with any dasyurid (carnivorous marsupial) – think quolls, antechinus, dunnarts and planigales.”

“Many people don’t even know Australia is home to these amazing little critters that are generally really small but have lots of attitude, and generally prey on animals many times their own body size! As well as being super ferocious for their size, they have an amazing breeding ecology where nearly all the males die off after only one year.”

“I also get a kick out of Australia’s amazingly beautiful and colourful parrots and have a soft spot for the Bourke’s Parrot.”

Senior Field Ecologist Andy Howe carries a pot of seedlings for planting at Curramore Wildlife Sanctuary, Queensland, as part of a project to increase habitat for the endangered Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus). Andy Howe/AWC
Andy carries a pot of seedlings for planting at Curramore Wildlife Sanctuary, Queensland, as part of a project to increase habitat for the endangered Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus).

“There are many ‘best parts’ of my job and probably too many to list. A few standouts are that I get to visit and immerse myself in some of Australia’s greatest landscapes and work with the incredibly diverse range of unique wildlife that live there.”

“You also can’t go past swimming in remote gorges with work colleagues that I can call friends to cool off after a hard day’s work and then sleeping in my swag under the clearest skies looking up to the brightest display of the night sky.”

Senior Field Ecologist Andy Howe Spotlighting for Australian Spotted Cuscus (Spilocuscus maculatus) on Piccaninny Plains Wildlife Sanctuary, QLD. AWC
Spotlighting for Australian Spotted Cuscus (Spilocuscus maculatus) on Piccaninny Plains Wildlife Sanctuary, QLD.

Our “Meet the people of AWC” series will continue to introduce you to the dedicated individuals who contribute to the conservation and protection of Australia’s wildlife. Stay tuned for upcoming spotlights, where we’ll uncover the passions and expertise of our diverse team.

Subscribe to receive our latest news from the field

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Latest news from the field

AWC
News from the Field Press Release 17 Apr. 2024

Four vulnerable quolls born to Western Australian sanctuary

Wayne Lawler/AWC
Feature 06 Apr. 2024

Bettongs