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#WCW : Sibonokuhle Ncube

Who is Sibonokuhle Ncube ?

Sibo is a Conservation Biologist with a keen interest in biodiversity protection, restoration and areas of benefit driven natural resources and best practices to ensure their sustainability. She is currently employed in the Forest Resources and Wildlife Management Department at the National University of Science and Technology as a Staff Development Fellow where her duties include lecturing, research and community engagement. She has over 13 years’ experience working in the Conservation sector and has filled roles that have enabled her to tackle research, community development in natural resource sector, conservation education and interdisciplinary research.

Source of Inspiration

Question : Who is your inspiration and what motivates you to do this job ?

Answer: I draw inspiration from many individuals who have impacted and motivated my life in different stages but mostly my mother, who from a young age instilled me the drive to always follow my passion, work hard and always leave an impact in any work done. The desire to make a meaningful contribution to my society at large motivates me to do my work.

Question : How do you balance work and social life ?

Answer : I find it important to set priorities and targets towards my work that also leave time for me to spend time with my family. I also do this by remaining flexible and open to evaluating the needs at any given time and balancing my priorities. In this modern technology era, efficient use of tools around me also helps me balance where in instances where I have to travel and leave my family behind, I efficiently communicate and keep informed on the day to day family activities and in other in other instances where I can work from home, I balance work delivery …. I guess being fluid in the way I work is my way of maintaining balance.

Question : What are the most exciting and most challenging experiences of your work ?

Answer : The most exciting would be working with local communities and tapping into the wealth of knowledge on biodiversity that exists where I always come out having learnt something new. I have over the years become more and more fascinated in non-timber forest products, encompassing medicinal plants plant research and other plants of commercial value that contributing to rural livelihoods; It excites me to see the untapped potential of unlocking the benefits natural resources have in improving community livelihoods if they are sustainably utilized.

Some challenges I have encountered is the limited availability and access to resources to fully conduct long term research that addresses the direct needs of the community. At times funding cycles may be too short to make any visible impact.

Question: What are the challenges being faced by women in conservation and what can be done to address them ?

Answer: Some job roles and locations do not fully support gender roles in women such as primary caregiving to children, giving an unfair advantage to the male counterparts applying for the same role. This may be due to the extreme remote location of some field stations, the need for long hours in the field at times doing research and some places not infrastructure friendly to accommodate the needs of women.

To address this, it’s essential to create spaces within Conservation work places that promote equity. For example, establishment of day care and play centers for children within or close to work places will assist mothers with young children to be in close contact. Improving accessibility of areas physically and remotely will assist women away from families to effectively engage with their families, thereby increasing the inclusion of women in some of the roles

Advice to aspiring conservationists

"There is a lot of untapped potential in this field and the extent to which we can contribute depends on the level we desire to explore. Stay focused, explore, collaborate and above all enjoy what you do."

Question: Do you think a mentorship program can be a good tool to motivate more young woman to take up conservation as a career ?

Answer : Most definitely; Many young women are not aware of the opportunities a career in conservation brings.

Question: Would you take up some time to mentor a young person given an opportunity ?

Answer : Yes I would, it is something close to my heart; I already work a lot with young women in the higher education space and try to use every opportunity I get to provide mentorship so .

"My favorite animal it surely is the lion; poised with tactfulness, wisdom and compassion…."
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