With the UK’s nature declining at a rapid rate, more than ever we need a distinct body whose primary purpose is to think, speak and act for our native amphibians and reptiles. We are therefore delighted to welcome new members to our team. Within these newly created posts we aim to increase species conservation through more habitat creation, widen our partner network to support groups with coming legislative change and support the public through advocacy, education and people’s access to nature. Below we introduce some of our new-starters.

Tawny Clark

We’d like to welcome ecologist and writer Tawny Clark to our Connecting the Dragons team in South Wales. With over fifteen years experience working in consultancy and conservation, and an MA in Creative Writing, Tawny is enthusiastic to bring her knowledge and creative energy to this fantastic project. She’s already helped ARC create a sensational willow grass snake egg laying site at WWT Llanelli, and is at her happiest when championing wildlife. 


Eryn McDonald

Eryn McDonald, has joined the team at our head office in Bournemouth as our Reptile Projects Officer. Eryn will be working on two projects we recently set up with Natural England, both focused on the four widespread reptiles. There’s a project to scope a large-scale survey of these species in Hampshire, and a project to define Favourable Conservation Status at the England scale. These projects will run through to end of March 2023 though we are hoping to secure further funding to continue the work.

Eryn has a long-standing interest in reptiles. She has a background in zoo work, including volunteering at Marwell, and coincidentally studied for her Masters degree alongside Ben King, who worked with us last year on pool frogs.


Shane Gausden

Shane Gausden is our new enquires officer based at head office in Bournemouth as part of the Communications team. ARC receives hundreds of enquiries from members of the public every year, helping to identify species, assisting with unwanted guests and providing information on native amphibians and reptiles in gardens.   Shane’s role will include reviewing previous queries to refine the process through creating a wider range of resources for the outreach and communications programme.

Shane has recently completed his Masters degree in Evolutionary studies and has a great passion for all things herpetology. In the past, he has helped to create a module for an online course about native herpetofauna and its conservation.


Maia Wellbelove

Maia Wellbelovea is a graduate from he University of Exeter where she studied Conservation Biology and Ecology, focusing her masters research on protecting wild great apes from disease. Since then, she has been a field ecologist and lived in both Denmark and Croatia. She is currently seconded to the Newt Conservation Partnership and is very excited to get stuck in with finding and creating habitat for great crested newts.

More new faces at ARC...

Natacha Smith (He/They)

Natacha is our new Species Team Student Placement. Although they usually live in Switzerland, he is currently a student at the University of Kent, studying Wildlife Conservation, and is in his placement year.   

Natacha works on a few projects at ARC, such as making tutorial videos of our survey apps for our field staff and volunteers, filing new donations to the Reptile Genebank project, going out on occasional tasks, and will be helping our Database & GIS Officer in his projects. Natacha is passionate about both the arts and conservation and has learnt a lot about the UK's native herpetofauna in his time here. Natacha will be with us until the end of June 2023, for a total of 9 months. 

Anna-Marie Dennis

Anna-Marie joins ARC, seconded to the Newt Conservation Partnership, as a Project Officer covering South Hampshire.  Her role involves finding suitable places to create new ponds and terrestrial habitat for great crested newts. She has had a varied career so far working as a site Ranger, Conservation Assistant, Project Officer for Water voles, and Forest School leader. She is delighted to be making a return to field work and increasing opportunities to thrive for great crested newts and a range of other species.

Finella Gray

Finella joins us from Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust where she spent 7 years working mainly on improving data collection and management on reptile projects in Mauritius and Madagascar.  In her role at ARC as Data and Monitoring Assistant in the Species Team she will be assisting our Database and GIS Officer with volunteer record management in our people database, licencing and species databases.  She is looking forward to meeting everyone at ARC, learning more about UK herps and doing some surveys on her local patch in West Sussex.

Keep an eye on our vacancies page for your opportunity to join our team!