Mar 24

Nick Cockayne, ARKive Assistant EditorI’ve been working as an Assistant Editor at Wildscreen for just under two years and before that I was working in the television industry. I studied Zoology at Bangor University and I’ve been interested in wildlife ever since I got my first butterfly field guide for my 6th birthday! My days are now spent editing films for ARKive highlighting different behaviours of endangered species. In any one day I’m lucky enough to see many different wildlife sequences, from the lethal western diamond-backed rattlesnake to the angelic harvest mouse.

When I’m not sat behind a bank of computer screens I generally prefer being outdoors to indoors, whether that be walking, mountain biking or just lounging around in my garden photographing bugs!

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently editing short species films ready to take into schools. ARKive takes part in the STEM ambassador programme, inspiring young people in Science Technology, Engineering and Maths. We’re looking for budding David Attenboroughs by helping the students to research a species and provide the narration to our films! We’ve picked some exciting animals from a variety of habitats for them to research, including emperor penguins in the Antarctic and birds of paradise in the tropical rainforests of Asia.

What animal skill would you most like to have?

Chimpanzees could definitely teach me a thing or two about tool use – I’m rubbish at DIY!

Which three people would you invite to the ultimate dinner party?

This is a really tricky one…do I mix business with pleasure, invite heroes that may disappoint? I’d have to go for George Harrison because I was born on Merseyside and he’s my favourite Beatle. Ernest Hemingway would receive my second invitation because although he wasn’t particularly interested in doing anything with wildlife other than shooting it, he had an incredible life travelling all over the world befriending many literary stars, and his parties were legendary! My final dinner guest would have to be Dian Fossey. Her story awakened me to the wonderful continent of Africa, and the plight of the mountain gorillas. I’m not so sure they’d all get along though…

Where in the world would you most like to go?

I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to many parts of the world and I’ve seen some truly amazing wildlife along the way, studying South East Asian pit vipers (Trimeresurus stejnegeri) in Northern Thailand and seeing forest elephants in the Congo basin. I fell in love with Africa at a very young age and if somebody said I could spend the rest of my life exploring this colourful continent with its diversity of people, cultures, wildlife and landscapes, I’d be a very happy boy!

Which celebrity do you most look like?

I don’t think I look like anyone in particular – you’d have to ask my colleagues! My nickname in Bristol however is Daddy G, the same as the Massive Attack musician, although this has nothing to do with music! Daddy G started off as Gorilla Nick and has slowly evolved over the years, a bit like all of us!

What’s the best wildlife encounter you’ve ever had?

I had one of my best and one of my worst wildlife encounters on the same day. It was the very first evening I arrived in Cameroon to begin working with western lowland gorillas and chimpanzees that had been orphaned by the illegal bushmeat trade. Ape Action Africa had been caring for an orphaned four week old forest elephant calf as her parents had been killed for their meat. Hamuda had become sick and had slipped into a coma. My first job straight from the airport was to help carry her somewhere warm and comfortable to spend the last few hours of her tragically short life. Later on that night I was introduced to my first orphaned western lowland gorilla. A boisterous young chap called Nkamum. I prepared and warmed his milk formula and peeled his mango before feeding him and getting him ready for bed! It was an unbelievable roller coaster of emotions that reinforced how important front line conservation work really is.

What’s your favourite thing on ARKive?

I thought about selecting something different but in the end I just couldn’t help myself. It’s the gorillas. Always has been and I suspect always will be!

Tell us an animal related joke.

A man walks into a bar with a lizard* on his shoulder. He walks up to the bar and asks for a pint for himself and a half for Tiny.

The barman serves him but finally curiosity got the better of him.

Barman: Why do you call him Tiny?
Man: Because he’s my newt!

*I realise newts are amphibians but ‘A man walks into a bar with an amphibian on his shoulder’ doesn’t have quite the same ring to it does it?