Dr Alan Wilson's career in veterinary medicine has taken him to Uganda, Australia, Kenya, and Indonesia, where he founded a company that helps local people conserve their environment through ecotourism.
Veterinary Medicine BVM&S and PhD
|Year of Graduation||1963 and 1968|
Your time at the University
My father studied at the Dick Vet and it seemed logical I should follow suit. My time at Edinburgh University made a lasting and significant effect on my life and attitudes. Apart from the beautiful city of Edinburgh, a place where a student did not need a car and could walk everywhere, I met my wife here, made many life long friendships, was taught by very stimulating lecturers and university staff with degrees that set me up for life and most importantly developed a future pathway which moulded my entire approach to life.
A walk in the Old Quad was always one I relished even though I had no business there; history drew me back again and again; another place was Greyfriars Bobby’s Bar, where the loyalty of the dog was evident.
Rag Day was always one of my favourites and capturing the Aberdeen Rag Queen and taking her for an unheralded holiday to Edinburgh was a highlight; also, the Saturday night dance at the Dick Vet, as you never knew who you would meet there.
The most important, long-term effect of Edinburgh was regularly attending the student evening service at St Georges West Church in the West End led by Rev Murdoe Ewan McDonald, whose preaching was direct, relevant and to the point. McDonald taught the Christian faith as it should be, the only really exciting pathway of life where a person is tested to the limits of their capability, showing talents they did not know they had. This approach, a long way from the religiosity of many religious organisations, was the basis of my future and current life after Edinburgh.
One of the most important volunteering roles was the Chairman of the Cephas Club in a cellar under St Georges West, a first class rock club, with the best bands serving the thugs, black jacketed teddy boys and girls, and unemployed of Edinburgh through service and the gospel; assisting in jobs and life changing experiences – what a training for the future.
Your experiences since leaving the University
Edinburgh taught me that anything is possible in life. After a short time in General Veterinary practice in Scotland and Northern Ireland, I returned to Uganda in 1965 (a research post including fieldwork for my PhD).
I was married to Meryl in 1966 in Nairobi, Kenya and we returned to Uganda where we spent many happy and productive years until Idi Amin (who came to power in a coup on January 25th, 1971) turned our beloved Uganda into a hell hole. Our assets disappeared due to a currency that rapidly lost its value and we decided to take a job in Australia. Luckily I had become a private pilot and owned a small Cessna 175 and we decided to fly it illegally from Uganda to Australia (in 45 days with 17 stops through 14 countries) to Townville, Queensland in 1975 where I had a job in a veterinary diagnostic laboratory. We loved Australia and became Aussies as soon as possible.
In 1979, Africa called again, and I took a post as Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Parasitology in the Veterinary School of the University of Nairobi.
Our lives took a radical change in 1981 when James Cook University of Townsville won a major veterinary development project in Indonesia and asked me to become Project Manager employed by (1981 – 1990). During this time with the assistance of 15 scientists (mainly Australian) and 25 Indonesians we worked with the Indonesian veterinary authorities to upgrade many aspects of the veterinary research centres through this vast archipelago. This involved learning Bahasa Indonesia (the national language) and pioneering education links and research programs throughout the islands. Sustainability of technical assistance projects was a key interest and an international NGO was formed to attempt to alleviate this problem (1990 – 1993).
In 1993 we moved to Bali to head another major Australian education project involving 27 Australian and 13 Indonesian universities; again sustainability was attempted by the formation of another international NGO. During this period, our lives changed again when we formed a conservation company with some Indonesians called ECOLODGES INDONESIA, which is dedicated to creating communities on the edge of national parks, offering sustainable jobs in eco lodges to help local people conserve their environment through ecotourism. Thus, we concentrate on the conservations of major species such as the orangutan or Komodo dragon to which tourists are drawn. In the past 20 years we have entertained over 150,000 guests in our eco lodges and created thousands of jobs and large segments of communities dedicated to conservation.
In the past 20 years we have entertained over 150,000 guests in our eco lodges and created thousands of jobs and large segments of communities dedicated to conservation.
Go for the moon in your life, take risks, believe in yourself so you can use your talents to the optimum (in the process, you will find talents you did not know you had), always be optimistic despite the downturns in life and my ultimate suggestion is read John 8 31 – 32 and apply it.
The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies
ECOLOGDES INDONESIA (external link)
Last updated November 2018.