Part of a bigger picture

Her work as a wildlife and zoo veterinarian has taken her all across the world, from Gabon and South Africa to the Isle of Man. Yet for Martine van Zijll Langhout, Utrecht University is never far away. She enjoys passing on her knowledge to current students in UU’s Veterinary Medicine programme.

Martine van Zijll Langhout
Martine van Zijll Langhout (Veterinary Medicine, 2001) spent several years in Africa working as a wildlife veterinarian. Alongside her current activities at ARTIS and Stichting AAP, she conducts research, teaches and gives lectures to inspire others.

'I love helping students and teaching courses, including the Wildlife elective in the Veterinary Medicine programme at UU. I also give lectures for their study society and regularly answer questions about topics like career choices.’ These activities fit perfectly with Martine’s mission to protect animals and the environment. ‘Every young colleague who has the right knowledge and expertise and decides to help nature and wild animals, makes a difference.'

Throughout her development, Martine has in turn been encouraged by numerous lecturers, colleagues, family members and classmates, most of whom are affiliated with UU. She has a special connection to the university through her father, Hens van Zijll Langhout, who graduated from UU in 1967. ‘He became an internist and is a huge source of inspiration for me, both as a person and as a physician.’

Hens van Zijll Langhout (Medicine, 1967) is an internist. He is Martine’s father and source of inspiration.

Nature conservation as a mission

The realisation that we as people are connected to all life on earth, as just one small link in the ecosystem, truly came to life when Martine was working with gorillas, rhinos and elephants in Africa. In her book On Living in the Wild (Over Leven in het Wild), which was published by Ambo/Anthos, she describes the richness of the wilderness and the great importance of nature conservation, including for our own survival. ‘It’s important to take a good look at the impact of the choices we make. We depend on biodiversity and a healthy ecosystem here in the Netherlands as well. We can start small in our efforts to contribute to this, for example by admiring a wasp instead of immediately killing it.’

Jeroen de Lange (International Law, 1994) is the founder of 100WEEKS. He was Martine’s housemate when she began her studies in Utrecht and he motivated her to think about meaning. Jeroen and Martine are collaborating on plans for nature conservation.

Appreciating and protecting wild animals

Someone who inspired her early on is alumnus Jeroen de Lange, her housemate in the student house at Zuilenstraat 13. He motivated Martine to think about things like meaning and social awareness. ‘When I moved into the house as a first-year student, Jeroen was already in his fifth year and very socially engaged. He organised peace missions in the Middle East, for instance. Jeroen founded 100WEEKS, a foundation that directly connects women in African countries with donors, who help lift them out of poverty within 100 days. We’re working together to look at how we can use a similar concept for nature conservation. If the local people who live near wildlife parks can generate an income on their own, rather than just the park owners, they will appreciate and protect the wild animals.’

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