Social Justice & Activism: The Creative Process: Activists, Environmental, Indigenous Groups, Artists & Writers Talk Diversity, Equity & inclusion
GLADYS KALEMA-ZIKUSOKA - Founder/CEO, Conservation Through Public Health - UN Champion of the Earth for Science & Innovation
Manage episode 385539953 series 3334565
How do some people face incredible tragedies and find within these experiences inspiration to improve the lives of others? Our guest today lost her grandfather, who was the assassinated Prime Minister of the Buganda Kingdom, and her father, who was disappeared by Idi Amin, and yet she went on to become a leading conservationist.
Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka is Uganda's first full-time wildlife veterinarian and the Founder and CEO of Conservation Through Public Health. Interested in animals from a young age, she pursued her studies at the Royal Veterinary College at the University of London before returning to Uganda. In the time since, she's worked tirelessly to preserve the animals of Uganda, being awarded the Whitley Gold Award, Sierra Club Earth Care Award, Edinburgh Medal, National Geographic Explorer, and most recently an appointment to become a United Nations Champion of the Earth for Science and Innovation. She is author of Walking with Gorillas: The Journey of an African Wildlife Vet.
"I have always wanted to be around animals and growing up, I cannot remember a time when there were no pets at home. My elder brother Apollo Katerega, who was 10 years older than me, also liked animals, especially dogs and was always bringing stray dogs and cats home. I was the last born of six children. My sister, Veronica Nakibule, who I followed, was five years older than me so were just outside each other's age bracket for playing. Thus the pets at home became my main companions, and we developed a strong bond.
Along the way, I eventually fulfilled my lifelong dream to not only become a veterinarian, but a wildlife veterinarian. In 1996, I began to take care of the critically endangered mountain gorillas of Uganda. Since then, they've increased in number from six hundred and fifty to 1,063 individuals in Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC). There are no mountain gorillas surviving in zoos outside their range countries, and their only hope is to keep the population thriving where they are naturally found.
The gorillas have shaped my life's calling since I first studied them as a student at the Royal Veterinary College, University of London. I've treated them as the first full-time wildlife veterinarian in Uganda and supported them as Founder and Chief Executive Officer of a grassroots NGO and nonprofit, Conservation Through Public Health, more commonly known as 'CTPH,' that promotes biodiversity conservation through not only improving the health of gorillas and other wildlife, but also the health and wellbeing of the people and livestock with whom they share their fragile habitats."