Wildlife Conservation

Study wildlife conservation online. Learn how to conduct flora and fauna surveys; learn about wildlife conservation theory, habitat rehabilitation, and threatened species recovery.

Course CodeBEN206
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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There has never been a better time to work with Wildlife

With a generation of wildlife professionals retiring, and a number of worldly trends now impacting our wildlife more than ever, now is the time to train as a wildlife professional.

Our future Wildlife professionals will face serious challenges in the future due to:

  • An increasing lack of public knowledge and connection to nature is presenting difficulties and controversy around the implication of much needed wildlife conservation and management policies.
  • The continuing global population growth is forcing wildlife into smaller, fragmented areas of remaining habitat and increasing human-wildlife conflict.
  • Global climate change is changing entire ecosystems.
  • The dispersal of species across natural barriers due to global trade means that invasive species now present a major threat to native wildlife survival.

Are you ready to take the challenge?

Obtain the skills for a career in Wildlife Conservation

Our Wildlife Conservation course will provide you with the foundation knowledge of conserving threatened wildlife. This course covers important aspects related to wildlife conservation such as:
  • habitat use 
  • habitat fragmentation
  • island biogeography
  • genetic diversity and conserving small populations
  • wildlife survey techniques
  • flora survey techniques
  • surveying marine life and
  • working with legislation and much more.
This course is terrific as both a general interest course and as a stepping stone into the field of wildlife conservation.  


Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to Wildlife Conservation
    • What is wildlife conservation
    • The need for wildlife conservation
    • Important concepts ecology, ecosystem, biome, conservation values, biological diversity, genetic drift, habitat, life span, wildlife movement and wildlife management.
    • Threatening processes habitat fragmentation, habitat degradation and loss, soil degradation, erosion, pollution, unsustainable harvesting, invasive species, climate change, population isolation and disease.
    • Biodiversity indicators
    • Terminology
  2. Recovery of Threatened Species
    • Loss of species categories of risk
    • Species vulnerability to endangerment
    • Recovery of species and threat management
    • Habitat Conservation identifying critical habitat and protecting habitat
    • Research population growth, habitat use and conservation genetics
    • Captive breeding
    • Translocation
    • Public involvement
  3. Habitat Conservation
    • Habitat
    • Types of Habitat eg. temperate and tropical forests, woodland, tundra and mangrove habitats
    • Habitat Use
    • Species Richness
    • Habitat Fragmentation
    • Creating Habitats
    • Restoration Ecology creating habitat corridors, situating corridors, types of corridors, edge effects
    • Habitat Rehabilitation implementing a land management program, determining objectives, determining a program
    • The Role of GIS in Conservation
    • The Role of Protected Areas levels of protection, approaches to reserve selection and limitation of reserves.
  4. Approaches to Conservation of Threatened Wildlife
    • Species Approach modelling demography, effective population size, small populations, population viability analysis (PVA)
    • Landscape Approach elements of landscape ecology, distribution of populations within a landscape, landscape modelling
    • Ecosystem Approach the need for ecosystem management, understanding dynamics, adaptive management, objectives for ecologically sustainable forest management.
  5. Vegetation Surveys
    • Plant Identification common names, scientific names, levels of division, botanical keys,
    • Vegetation survey techniques such as quadrat surveys, landscape assessments, line surveys.
    • Vegetation Mapping remote sensing data.
  6. Fauna Surveys
    • Observation techniques spotlighting, scat surveys, census techniques
    • Trapping Techniques radio tracking, call recordings, pit fall traps, Elliot traps.
    • Species identification
  7. Marine Conservation
    • Reef Surveys
    • Habitat Surveys
    • Aerial Surveys
    • Overexploitation
    • Commercial Fish Stock Management
  8. Planning for Wildlife
    • Farm Planning
    • Urban Planning
    • Use of GIS
  9. Management
    • Managing Threatened Wildlife Populations manipulating populations, revegetation/restoration, creating corridors, pest control plans, fencing for species, fire breaks.
  10. Wildlife Conservation Project

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Develop a concept of the guiding principles of wildlife conservation and the threats to wildlife.
  • Determine the principles and approaches used towards species recovery.
  • Discuss the principles of habitat conservation with regards to fragmentation, restoration and the use of protected areas.
  • Describe and discuss the various approaches used to conserve threatened species and ecosystems.
  • Appreciate the range of flora survey techniques that have been developed to sample fauna for the purposes of conservation.
  • Discuss and differentiate between fauna survey techniques that have been developed to sample fauna for the purposes of conservation.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the consequences of overexploitation. Discuss and differentiate between marine survey techniques used to conserve marine species.
  • Discuss and differentiate the range of planning tools available for farming, urban and residential planning to help conserve wildlife.
  • Identify various management techniques used to conserve wildlife.
  • Develop a wildlife recovery plan for a species under threat.

What You Will Do

  • Select an invasive species (plant, animal or disease) that is present in your locality or country. Research information on the species such as:
    • Origin
    • Form of dispersal
    • Ecology eg. behaviour, food and shelter preferences.
    • Impact of this species eg. competition, predation, infection, habitat modification
    • Control Measures in place.
  • Select an endangered species (plant or animal) within your locality or country. Research information on the species including:
    • Location
    • Habitat
    • Behaviour/Diet
    • Reproduction
    • Threats
    • Conservation
  • Conduct research into the categories of threatened species within your own state or country. You could contact your local Environmental Protection Agency or search the internet. Find out what these categories are, what the category means and any species that fall into this category.
  • Conduct research on an endangered species within your country. Gather information on the following:
    • Distribution
    • Ecology
    • Threats
    • What conservation efforts are being undertaken.
  • Research five (5) habitat types. Find out information on the characteristics of the habitat, wildlife present and any potential or ongoing threats to this habitat.
  • Research legislation for protecting species relevant to your local area. What controls are in place to conserve habitat. List any incentives available to private landholders to conserve habitat on their property.
  • Conduct research on a threatened species in your region or country (either by the internet or contacting your relevant Environmental Protection Agency). Collect information on how you would attempt to conserve this species using a landscape approach.
  • Visit a natural/semi-natural area in your locality that has varying vegetation types. Conduct a small-scale flora survey of the species present using one of the techniques mentioned in the lesson. Prepare a report on your findings including: Description of Area, Methodology (including materials used); Results (Species and Vegetation types present).
  • Either contact an Environmental Consultant or search the internet to get information on 2 different fauna surveys carried out in your country. Gather information on the techniques used, the results and any shortcomings of the surveys that you may have noticed.
  • Set up a spot in your backyard for observation (if you do not have a backyard visit a local park or semi-natural area). sit for 30 minutes and observe the species you observe (both plant and animal). Record the animal activities you observe.
    • Conduct research on a survey approach taken for a threatened species of your choosing. Find out the survey approaches used, what were the results and how the data was used. Was this project successful, do you think another approach would have been more successful? Why?
  • Contact (either in person, email, by telephone or internet search) an organisation involved in integrating wildlife into farm, urban or residential planning (eg. Land for Wildlife, Local Councils, Conservation Partners Program of NSW, Conservation Grade, UK). Find out information such as:
    • What are the goals of this organisation?
    • How do they plan for wildlife?
    • How do they encourage the public to be involved in conservation efforts?
  • On the internet, research a project that uses exclusion fencing (or another exclusion method) to protect a threatened species. Find out information about the target species, its ecology, the area fenced, how effective the fencing has been in conserving the species and any issues with the project.
  • Develop a wildlife recovery plan for a species under threat.

Wildlife Conservation is Important in so many ways

The IUCN Red List of 2009 identified more than 17,291 of 47,677 species assessed are currently threatened with extinction. This equates to 36% of those assessed. There are 1.8 million recognised species on earth. However, the health and status of most of these species has not yet been assessed.

Amphibians appear to be facing the greatest threat, with around 30% of the 6 285 assessed species in danger of extinction. The deadly chytrid fungus (mentioned in lesson 1) is blamed for the extinction of the Kihansi spray toad (Nectophrynoides asperginis) in the wild within the last year.

Factors that lead to species loss worldwide include habitat loss, disease, over-exploitation, invasive species, climatic changes, and pollution. It is usually a combination of some of these factors that lead to the extinction of species. Below is a graph showing the percentage of species threatened by various causes. Although this data is from 1998, the trend has remained the same over time. As you can see, habitat loss is the major threat to plant and animal species worldwide.

Human impacts are generally the major cause of species extinction, but there are other observable characteristics in species that can make wildlife more vulnerable to extinction.
These include rarity, ability to disperse, degree of specialisation, population variability, trophic level, life span and reproductive rate.

This course helps you understand all of these factors and the mechanisms that are being used; or might be used to improve the situation.

What is Threatening Wildlife?

Air Pollution

Air pollution can have long and short term effects on wildlife habitats. It varies somewhat depending on the locality of the wildlife. One particularly pertinent example of air pollution is acid rain. This can have a devastating effect on the food source and nesting areas of wildlife.

Water Pollution

Water pollution affects both aquatic and land based wildlife. When water is overused by mankind, it can lead to changes to the water table. This can have long term flow on effects such as salinity and topographical changes.

Changes in water chemistry due to runoff, sewage disposal, industrial waste, etc can all have dramatic effects on wildlife habitats and populations. A wildlife manager must be aware of the importance of clean water in the habitat.


The presence of insecticides, herbicides and heavy metals can have big impacts on the ecology of an area. If these toxicants are present in an area, they may only affect one species to start off with. However, in a knock on effect way, that one species can then unleash a chain reaction that drastically alters the food web, habitat and population of wildlife in an area.



Success in the wildlife industry is not just a matter of being able to do the job. It is also very much dependent upon the attitude you have and the decisions you make. Becoming “connected” and remaining “connected” is vital for ongoing success in your career so that you see and adapt to change as your career moves forward. 

Working with wildlife is not just a profession, it is a passion! If you value nature and want to implicate real positive changes for the future of our planet’s wildlife, there are so many opportunities with a wildlife conservation background.

Where can this course lead?

Job opportunities in wildlife will be highly varied in the future so current students need to "think outside the box".  This course may deliver different things to different graduates. The following are just some of the areas where wildlife conservation opportunities may exist:

  • Research and Development - in self-employment; sub contracting services, or working for an organisation.
  • Wildlife Assessments - can be as varied such as conducting fauna surveys or animal behavioural assessments in the field.
  • Wildlife Feeding and Nutrition
  • Environmental Consultation
  • Sales and Marketing - animal services and products
  • Education - public education
  • Tourism - ecotourism
  • Business Management & Development - requires both management skills as well as a solid understanding of the wildlife industry.
  • Journalism and Writing

Wildlife conservation jobs may be found in organisations including state and federal wildlife organisations, non-government conservation organisations, academia, consulting companies, professional and scientific societies, zoos and aquariums.
With the strong foundation gained through this course, you will have a great standing for any successful career in wildlife. 

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Dr Robert Browne

Zoologist, Environmental Scientist and Sustainability, science based consultancy with biotechnology corporations. Work focused on conservation and sustainability. Robert has published work in the fields of nutrition, pathology, larval growth and develop
Martin Powdrill

25 years working in Telecommunications, IT, Organisational Development, and Energy Conservation & Efficiency, prior to setting up his own Permaculture consulting business. Martin has a Bsc (Hons) Applied Science (Resources Option), MSc Computer Studies, P
Robert James

B.App. Sc. (Horticulture), Dip.Ag., M.Sc., Grad Dip.Mgt. Over 50 years experience that includes, Nursery Manager Brisbane City Councoil, Grounds Manager (University of Qld), Lecturer Qld Agricultural College, Propagator/Nurseryman at Aspley Nursery, Hort
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