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Dr Tammie

Wildlife warrior and conservationist



Dr Tammie Matson first visited Zimbabwe when she was just 15. From that moment on she was determined to be a wildlife conservationist in Africa. She realised that dream by the age of 21. It wasn’t an easy journey for the young Australian but since then she has become an internationally acclaimed champion for elephants.

On her quest to protect them she has stared down charges by elephants, been stalked by lions and walked up to rhinos at night in some of Africa’s most famous wildlife parks, as well as dealing with witch doctors and war veterans, all in a regular day’s work.

Current work
Tammie is married to Andy Ridley, who is the co-founder of Earth Hour and founding CEO of Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef, and they have two young sons, Solo and Shep. Tammie juggles motherhood with managing the Akagera Elephant Project, Rwanda and her ethical African safari business, Matson & Ridley Safaris, offering life changing journeys that make a difference and leading groups to Africa as an expert guide and conservation educator.

Previous experience

Education: Tammie overcame sexism and the macho culture of rural Namibia, to obtain her PhD in zoology, in a remote national park where few females worked. Her work on Namibia’s threatened black-faced impalas led to the country’s first national management plan and the reintroduction of the subspecies back to its former range, where it is now in recovery after being poached out in the 1980s. Tammie has helped radio-collar desert-dwelling elephants, taught English at a small African primary school, and in 2005, she established a project to reduce human-elephant conflict among the San Bushmen in north-east Namibia, at the request of the Chief.
Tammie has lectured in the environmental sciences at both Macquarie University, Sydney and James Cook University, Singapore, with a focus on Science Communication.

Work: While working as an environmental advisor at Wilderness Safaris, one of southern Africa’s most prominent tourism companies, she traversed vast tracts of the inhospitable deserts of Namibia and Botswana in a Land Rover, including the hostile Skeleton Coast, sharing the journeys with people from the unique nomadic tribes of the region to help her find her way. Now Tammie advises on the responsible development of safari tourism among First Nations communities in far northern Queensland’s Cape York and Torres Strait region.

WWF: In 2007, Tammie returned to Australia to lead the national threatened species program at WWF in Sydney, focusing on conserving Australia’s rarest creatures and becoming a voice for threatened species worldwide. She continued to advise on elephant projects closer to Australia, including attempting to introduce chillies as a deterrent to elephants in war-torn Assam, north east India.
Awards: In 2010, Tammie won 'In Style' magazine’s prestigious Women of Style awards for her work on environmental issues, joining other accomplished Australian women such as Nicole Kidman and Cate Blanchett.

Documentary: After moving to Singapore in 2012, Tammie co-founded the Let Elephants Be Elephants campaign in South East Asia to raise awareness of the connection between the poaching of elephants in Africa and the demand for ivory in Asia. Together with co-founder, Asian TV star Nadya Hutagalung, host of Asia’s Next Top Model (seasons 1 and 2), the two women made a documentary on the issue which screened across Asia in 2013 on National Geographic channel, and was shortlisted for the Asian TV Awards for Best Documentary.

“Tammie is an engaging speaker with an inspiring story to tell. In the corporate world we often say "it's wild out there" and for Tammie it literally is. Despite the monumental and complex challenges she faces as a wildlife campaigner, Tammie delivers an encouraging message. She opens the audiences’ hearts and minds to a world a long way from their desk but with several surprising parallels.” AustCham Singapore (Australian Chamber of Commerce)

“Dr Tammie Matson has spoken at the United World College of South East Asia (UWCSEA), Singapore on several occasions and most recently, she was a guest speaker at the Round Square International Conference hosted by UWCSEA. A knowledgeable and talented speaker, Tammie relates to and engages her audiences of all ages easily; she never fails to inspire. An excellent communicator, Tammie's presentations are interactive and challenge our understanding of animal conservation.”

Head of Global Concerns, United World College, SEA, Singapore

“Having Tammie Matson speak at the Singapore Botanic Gardens was a huge privilege and drew a larger and more diverse crowd than our regular speakers. Her enthusiasm and sincerity for the plight of elephants engaged the audience and attracted many questions. She is a brave activist for a good cause and we should all pay more respect to these extraordinary animals by avoiding the purchase of ivory.”

Singapore Botanic Gardens

“Dr Tammie Matson was invited to be the guest speaker at our annual SAVE the African Rhino Foundation (NSW) fundraising event. Due to her vast first-hand experience with wildlife and especially elephants, Tammie proved to be a fantastic speaker, thoroughly charming the audience with her personable manner and engaging stories appealing to the conservationist in each of us. The event was a huge success thanks to Tammie.”

SAVE Foundation, NSW Australia

Tammie has a special gift. She is able to capture the rooms attention completely for her entire presentation. Mouths are always agape with her storytelling, the audience transfixed with her enthralling takes on wildlife and life . They way that Tammie is able to use her experiences and challenges and work them to the theme of the event is admirable. Not only is her confident presence on stage notable, but Tammie is just so great to deal with . Professional , friendly and a great communicator. I would engage Tammie in a heartbeat , over and over again.

Women and Leadership Australia
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