'I wake up about 7 o'clock, shower, and then have breakfast with my wife and son before driving to work. I work at Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden in Tai Po, so it takes me about 45 minutes to get there from Clear Water Bay. I drop off my wife and son en route; my wife works as a nurse and my son attends kindergarten. I make myself a cup of coffee when I start work, otherwise I wouldn't be fully functional. Then I read my e-mails, which are mostly from colleagues, but I also get a lot from environmental and professional groups. Depending on the day, I either have a few meetings or I might work on a report or a paper. Occasionally, I'll go outside the office. This morning, we had a python that ate a chicken in our hen house, so I was called in to give them a hand catching the python. I am a herpetologist by training - which means I study amphibians and reptiles - and they are my main professional interests. As a member of the World Conservation Union Species Survival Commission's specialist group on turtles, I provide voluntary expert advice on turtle conservation. I am also a member of the Global Amphibian Specialist Group and I have contributed towards the strategic action plan for global amphibian conservation. At Kadoorie, I work on the China programme. We have a small team of people carrying out a wide range of projects in the mainland. Although I wouldn't be fully involved in one particular project because I oversee the whole programme, I like to brainstorm ideas with the team members and visit the site with them. The focus of the programme is conservation and sustainability. Basically, we look at the forest, the bio-diversity, plants, animals and human activities. I go to the mainland about once a month. My wife obviously prefers me to spend more time with the family, especially since our son was born in 2001. However, she is also interested in nature and understands the importance of my work. I hope when our son is old enough, I can show him some of my work in the mainland. I like travelling with my job because it gives meaning to the less exciting administrative tasks. Spending time in the wilderness once in a while helps me stay connected to nature. Meetings with the project partners and villagers, and sharing experiences with the team, often lead to inspiration and ideas. We have also found quite a few amphibians or reptiles that haven't been recorded in the mainland before and we have also come across species that are new to science. Our work in the mainland often leads to unexpected events. Once we were doing a survey in north Guangxi, in a nature reserve called Mulun. We had just finished the survey and the directors took us on a shortcut. It was remote and, as there were no roads, it was a long distance to get back to our car. The shortcut was through a railway tunnel and, as our guide was the director of the reserve, we assumed he'd know the schedule of the trains. So, we were walking through the tunnel and about midway through, we heard the sound of an approaching train. There wasn't enough time to rush to the exit so we laid ourselves flat against the wall as the train came through. We eventually got back in one piece. We have lunch in the canteen at the farm. Like most Chinese, I'm not vegetarian but I'm aware of the health and ecological implications of a meat diet. I'm trying to switch to eating more vegetables than meat so every Thursday in the canteen, we serve only vegetarian meals. I'm taking it one step at a time. After lunch, there are more meetings or I have a discussion with the staff. The official finish time is 5.15pm but I usually finish about 6pm. I've always been interested in animals and plants, which is probably because my father liked having pets at home and also grew plants. At the moment, I have a leopard gecko. I used to have a few more but they started to die of old age. I also have a few salamander larvae I collected from the mainland. When I found them in the field, they were eggs, so I didn't know which species they were. We also have geckos, skinks and toads in the garden. My interest in amphibians and reptiles began when I was in Form Three because our school - St Louis School, in the western part of Hong Kong Island - had an aquarium that was originally earmarked for studying fish. It was the idea of our biology teacher, Father Bogadek. When he started the project, he needed students to help him, so some of my friends and I volunteered. We went to collect sand, but we found a lot of tadpoles and skinks and a freshwater snake. That got us excited and we brought them back for the aquarium. After school, I studied at the Australian National University in Canberra. I studied a double major in zoology and botany, and gained honours in the zoology department. I did a study on Corroboree frogs - a small, brightly coloured frog with yellow and black markings that is found in high areas of Kosciuszko National Park [in New South Wales, Australia]. Then I came back to Hong Kong and worked at the Mai Po Marshes Reserve for four years. Because the construction of Chek Lap Kok airport affected Romer's tree frogs, it was an opportunity for research, so I did a PhD at Hong Kong University studying the frogs. In the evening, I do a bit of shopping before going back home. I usually have dinner at home because we have a helper. I go to sleep about 11pm. My wife and son will usually go to bed earlier. My wife reads books to my son, so they normally go to bed about 9pm. There are a few books I have started and would like to continue when I have some spare time. My favourite book so far is The Little Earth Book by James Bruges. My son is interested in insects and spiders - to my wife's horror. She doesn't mind frogs or snakes, but she is scared of bugs.'