The rose amongst the thorns, Toni’s (18) love for nature started from a young age having grown up in a wildlife conservancy where Zebras mowed her lawn and Fiery-necked Nightjars serenaded her to sleep. Rather than spending copious amounts of time sitting behind a computer or a TV, she spent most of all her school holidays exploring the famed Kruger National Park, traipsing around barefoot and picking up all sorts of creepy crawlies in sheer awe and admiration. Her love for birds and birding stemmed from her father, who would often take her out with him every at opportunity he got, teaching her the ropes in between having to deal with her picking up Bullfrogs to take back to the house for ‘show and tell’ sessions. Before she knew it, she found herself ticking off the more common birds she was seeing and once the listing bug bit, her passion and love for birding began to grow at an exponential rate. Although the initial foundations of her newly fledged lifestyle, her love for listing soon developed into a deeper appreciation for birds, their conservation and the breathtaking variety of over 10,000 species across the globe.
Having just finished high school, Toni has set her sights on pursuing both a degree in Zoology and Botany through the University of South Africa as well as obtaining her field guide qualifications through the Field Guides Association of South Africa (FGASA), all whilst beginning to expand her horizons, travel more and explore what the world has to offer in terms of the plethora of bird species which have been enticing her for so many years. Toni’s passion for birds has seen her record close on 750 species on the southern African sub-continent, ranking her as one of the country’s highest under 30 female listers, at the tender age of 18!
Passion, enthusiasm and a positive outlook in even the toughest situations, accompanied by eyes sharper than a migrating Steppe Eagle, she will no doubt be a crucial asset to this young, dynamic team of global youth birders.