Nola qualified in 1997 as a veterinarian from Onderstepoort, University of Pretoria, after which she spent three years in London working at a small animal neutering clinic. She travelled around Britain and Europe for a while, and spent a month in Tonga helping with fieldwork on the fruit bat before travelling to southern Spain where she worked on a sustainable organic farm for another month.
In March 2001, Nola started working as rehabilitation manager at SANCCOB (Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds), and switched to being a part-time vet there when she started her Masters in November 2002. The title of her thesis was Quantifying abundance and breeding of the African Black Oystercatcher at Koeberg nuclear power station.
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