Inspiring women working in conservation in South Africa.

“ I raise up my voice – not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard. … We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.”

Amal Clooney
From top left to bottom right: Debbie, Emma, Alina, Jade, Kellyn, Terry-Lee, Sue, Linri, Jeannie, Simone, Talitha, Nina.

Jeannie Hayward (Cape Leopard Trust)

Jeannie graduated from Stellenbosch University with an MSc in Zoology and immediately went into conservation work. Having taken a break to pursue many varied and interesting roles in a range of industries, Jeannie joined the CLT team in 2010 as one of the first coordinators and researchers on the Boland Project studying leopards. She is currently CLT’s media and communications manager and works to disseminate their conservation message.

Learn all about leopards with Jeannie here.

Jade Sookhoo (Marine Dynamics)

Jade has had a passion for Marine Biology from a young age having grown up by the ocean. This lifelong interest led her to study for a bachelor’s degree in biodiversity and ecology at the University of Stellenbosch with Jade taking an additional interest in teaching Marine Ecology. 
Jade wanted to continue to pursue her interests in Marine life by starting an internship with Marine Dynamics (DICT) and has progressed her career alongside them by becoming a marine guide for Marine Dynamics on the Marine Big 5 trips and a biologist working in the conservation of many marine species including seabird rehabilitation and education. Currently, Jade wants to broaden her understanding of human impacts on the ocean and educate people and communities on sustainable management of marine species and ways they can help coastal and marine conservation.

Learn about Jade’s work with whales here.

Alina Pryazhkina (Dyer Island Conservation Trust)

Alina first volunteered with Marine Dynamics Academy in 2013. She came back in 2017 to do her Bachelor’s project on African penguins. Alina then joined the skills-based scientific internship with the Marine Dynamics Academy and soon began to work as a guiding biologist on the shark cage diving vessel. Alina contributes to the observational database on sharks and other species sighted. Alina will provide an overview of the Marine Dynamics business and conservation model, the Dyer Island ecosystem, and the monitoring of the Marine Big 5.

Learn about Alina’s work with sharks here.

Terry-Lee Honiball (Madikwe Game Reserve)

Terry conducted a master’s with Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Large Carnivore Ecology in North West South Africa. Terry has been conducting a PhD with Nelson Mandela University’s Wildlife Ecology Lab looking into carnivore genetics, behaviour, movement and diet. Furthermore, she is a part-time lecturer in Environmental Education at the same university.

Terry is trying to change the narrative on Large Carnivores being aggressive and is attempting to shed light on their integral ecological role, furthermore, as a successful conservationist, she is happy to answer your questions about getting into the field!

Take a crash course in large carnivore ecology with Terry-Lee here.

Kellyn Whitehead (Nature’s Valley Trust)

Kellyn had a passion for the natural world from a young age and her passion has only continued to grow! She studied her BSc and BSc Hons in biodiversity and ecology at Stellenbosch (Stellenbosh) University. Kellyn then joined NVT in March 2014 as a volunteer, she then joined the team as a post-grad student. Since then, Kellyn has completed an MSc in Pollination ecology with the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal and now oversees NVT’s Fynbos research program and their volunteer and internship program. Kellyn’s big loves are the fynbos, birds, turtles, and giraffes (quite the combo) and she loves sharing her knowledge with both young and old, with the hope of inspiring the same love for nature in them as she carries.

Learn about Kellyn and her work here.

Simoné Marshall-Smith (Zululand Rhino Orphanage)

Simoné completed her Field Guide Associate of Southern Africa qualification through Bhejane Nature Training and then went on to study a BTech in Nature Conservation at Nelson Mandela University. Simoné has always had a passion for wildlife and has worked in conservation for the last ten years. She currently works for the Zululand Conservation Trust and manages the Zululand Rhino Orphanage.

Learn about Simoné and her inspiring job here.

Sue Swain (BioWise Solutions)

Sue started practising Biomimicry in 1992 when working for an environmental education centre at Cape Point. Here, she questioned why we described nature, rather than learning from nature. Since then, Sue has worked hard to set up BioWise where she is still the executive director and, through education, encourages everyone to live a waste-free, interdependent, resourceful, resilient and regenerative lifestyle.

Sue was inspired to form Biowise when she realised that her long-term fascination with biomimicry was a valuable resource to be taught and shared with others. Biomimicry is the concept of, rather than purely extracting resources from nature, using nature as a tool to learn from. Biomimicry also recognises the evolved wisdom behind the patterns, processes and principles found in the living world and provides us with Nature’s time-tested blueprint for thriving on earth!

Learn about Sue’s journey and the importance of Biomimicry here.

Linri Van Rensburg (Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre)

It takes a particularly special person to take on the important responsibility of overseeing the animals in a wildlife conservation centre such as HESC.
Our followers often hear us talk of Linri, our head curator, so we thought we would tell you a little more about her, and what her responsibilities are at HESC.
Linri’s career at HESC started in 2015, four years ago, but she has held the position of head curator since August 2017.
The responsibilities of a head curator include checking the animals on a daily basis to ensure they are in a healthy condition and arranging treatment for any conditions that she may detect. Therefore, Linri works very closely with our wildlife veterinarian, Dr Peter Rogers, assisting with procedures and vaccinations of the animals too. She also monitors animals post-treatment and updates our vet on their progress too.

Learn more about Linri and her work here.

Dr Debbie English (ProVet Animal Hospital)

Debbie joined the Provet Team in January 2020 as our new practice veterinarian, with a talent for surgeries.

Actions speak louder than words – watch Debbie in action here.

Emma De Jager (Umoya Khulula Wildlife Centre)

Emma is the Co-owner and Rehabilitation Manager of Umoya Khulula Wildlife Centre

Emma De Jager came to South Africa from the UK at the age of 18. Once she saw the beauty of South Africa and its amazing animals, she was hooked. Emma has been working in wildlife rehabilitation for over 15 years, working with over 100 different species of mammals, birds, and reptiles. She has successfully released over 500 animals back into the wild.

Listen to Emma share her experiences here.

Talitha Noble (Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation)

Talitha is the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation Conservation Coordinator. She manages the turtle rescue, rehabilitation and release programme.

Listen to Talitha share her knowledge here.

Nina Wolf Scott (Tanda Tula)

Nina opened Tanda Tula along with Don Scott and they soon became affectionately known as ‘Captain Clever Clogs & Chief Know-It All‘.

They, along with their team, have a passion for wildlife conservation, for the communities of which we are part and for creating magical experiences. Nina and Don joined two other families to join hands in a long-held dream of working together, and we grew to include an exceptional team.

This led to the Tanda Tula Foundation whose community development programs are largely associated with education, but also provide support for small business development, the establishment of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and encouraging environmental awareness.

Read more about Nina and the Tanda Tula Foundation here.

Michele Merrifield (Daktari Bush School and Wildlife Orphanage)

Michèle Merrifield officially opened DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage in 2006, along with Ian Merrifield, but it was a long road to make that happen! Michele first met while Ian was a Game Ranger at Tshukudu Game Lodge and Michèle was a volunteer there. While hand-raising injured zebras, wildebeest, and warthogs, Ian and Michèle fell in love.

Michèle had long dreamed about living in Africa and caring for the wildlife. When she met Ian, she was able to realize that dream. After getting married, they left Tshukudu and opened a restaurant in Hoedspruit to start raising capital for their wildlife orphanage. During this time, Ian and Michèle helped raise a local boy named Thabo. Thabo had almost no knowledge or understanding of the environment or the native wildlife. Therefore, Ian and Michèle began using animals in their care to teach him. Thabo’s knowledge of conservation was typical of children in Limpopo. This realization helped ignite the idea of adding a bush school to the wildlife orphanage.

Michèle says, “When we were younger, there was a TV program called Daktari. It was about a family in Africa who looked after and raised many different types of orphaned wild animals. As kids, we loved it and remembered getting deeply emotionally attached to the different animals.” Sounds familiar, right? Michèle and Ian adopted the name, and DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage was born.

Listen to Michele share her story here.

Wendy Collison (Endangered Wildlife Trust)

Wendy runs EWT’s Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Wildlife and Roads Project (EWT-WRP) which has been conducting work since 2010. This has accelerated a greater understanding of the impact of road infrastructure on wildlife and provided potential solutions to minimise wildlife road mortality, resulting in the emerging scientific discipline of Road Ecology.

Listen to Wendy share her research here.

“One individual cannot possibly make a difference, alone. It is individual efforts, collectively, that makes a noticeable difference—all the difference in the world!”

Dr. Jane Goodall

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