Welcome back to Zookeeper Diaries! In today’s edition, we’re highlighting the remarkable journey of Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, a pioneering veterinarian and conservationist from Uganda. She has made groundbreaking strides in her efforts to protect the endangered mountain gorillas, while also focusing on improving the lives of local communities.
Early Life and Education
Born and raised in Uganda, Dr. Kalema-Zikusoka developed a love for wildlife at a young age. She pursued her passion by obtaining a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of London’s Royal Veterinary College, and later earned a Master’s degree in specialized veterinary medicine from North Carolina State University.
The First Wildlife Veterinarian in Uganda
Dr. Kalema-Zikusoka became the first wildlife veterinarian in Uganda when she was appointed the Veterinary Officer for the Uganda Wildlife Authority in 1996. In this role, she was responsible for the health and well-being of the country’s wildlife, including its critically endangered mountain gorillas.
Founding Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH)
In 2002, Dr. Kalema-Zikusoka founded Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH), a non-profit organization aimed at improving the health of wildlife, domestic animals, and humans in and around protected areas. CTPH’s work focuses on promoting coexistence between wildlife and local communities, recognizing that the health of one group is interconnected with the health of the other.
One Health Approach
One of Dr. Kalema-Zikusoka’s most significant contributions to conservation is her emphasis on the “One Health” approach, which recognizes the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health. Through CTPH, she has implemented numerous programs aimed at reducing disease transmission between humans, domestic animals, and wildlife, thus safeguarding the health of all species involved.
Awards and Recognition
Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka’s tireless work in conservation and her dedication to the One Health approach has earned her numerous accolades, including the Whitley Gold Award (2019) and the Sierra Club’s EarthCare Award (2020). Her work has been featured in documentaries, such as the BBC’s “Gorilla Doctors” and National Geographic’s “The Gorilla King.”
Join us next time on Zookeeper Diaries as we continue to explore the inspiring lives of individuals making a difference in wildlife conservation.