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Women in conservation: The story of Dr.Josphine Mundava

Updated: Mar 23, 2022

In this article

  • Who is Dr. Josephine Mundava

  • Designation

  • Source of inspiration

  • Motivation

  • Challenges faced by women in conservation

  • Suggested solution

  • A piece of advice for aspiring female conservationists

  • Exciting memories

  • Most challenging experiences

  • Wildlife Conservation

  • Favorite Animal

Who is Dr. Josphine Mundava

Dr . Mundava is a biodiversity conservation enthusiast – with a keen interest in the sharing of knowledge on biodiversity conservation, and the inclusion of communities in conservation drives. She is currently lecturing at the National University of Science and Technology in the Department of Forest Resources and Wildlife Management. She has over a decade of experience in scientific research, teaching, and conservation education in different communities. Her experiences provided her with an opportunity to work within multidisciplinary teams, and an opportunity to communicate with various stakeholders across the geographical landscape. Dr. Mundava's research interests include interactions at the human-wildlife interface (zoonotic diseases, conflict), biodiversity conservation, ornithology, and conservation education in urban and rural communities, traditional medicine and wildlife, and the inclusion of communities in conservation – fostering the development of local solutions to local problems.


Lecturer/Researcher in the Department of Forest Resources and Wildlife Management at the National University of Science and Technology.

Some of her duties

Teaching undergraduate and post-graduate students, development of project proposals for funding, collaborative work with stakeholders involved in biodiversity conservation, community outreach work – currently working with traditional healers in pushing for biodiversity conservation, mentoring young people on research and writing.

Source of inspiration

Question: Who inspired you to pursue a carrier in conservation

Answer : I grew up with a keen interest in observing nature – particularly trees and birds. Unfortunately for me, biodiversity was conspicuously absent from what was taught at school – only showing up in the last years of high school. So whatever knowledge of the environment I had in the earlier years came from pictures off calendars, and books taken out of the library. My dad also had a keen interest in all things nature, and he fostered a lot of curiosity in me – and the end result was my enrolment for a nature-related course for my undergraduate studies. Since then, I have met many inspirational people; from academics, fellow conservationists, energetic and enthusiastic students, community leaders with bottomless knowledge, keen community members, the list goes on; and they have all inspired me to keep doing what I do, and strive to do it better.


Question : what motivates you to do your job ?

Answer : I am motivated by the many men and women working in different spaces to conserve nature. Such people give me hope for the future, and inspire me to keep doing what I do. I am also motivated by the desire to see us do better in taking care of our environment. I have a deep-seated faith in my fellow humans that we can do better; litter less, stop seeing ‘meat’ in every animal, recognize that we are part of nature and not here to conquer it, and ultimately restore ecosystems and avert major extinctions. I think it is possible! What is required is a willingness to work together and share ideas – that way we can do more.

Challenges faced by women in conservation

Question : What challenges are being faced with women in conservation

Answers Women in the conservation may be affected by what I call the ‘big boys club’ – where they may be side-lined or excluded from projects solely based on their gender and the age-old prejudices entrenched in societies. Women within the education sector definitely face more challenges in advancing their careers compared to their male counterparts due to ‘home’ demands – with most women being the primary carers in homes. Getting a work-life balance remains elusive for most women I think, and the career usually suffers as a result.

Suggested solution

Question: what do you think should be done to support women in conservation

Answer : Personally, I would like to see more support in terms of including the family in conservation, and in the workplace. Speaking as a mother working in an academic institution, what I would really want to see are day care centers within these institutions – allowing mothers to put in the hours without worrying about the welfare of their little ones. The same could be extended towards research centers and organizations, and even at conferences! The inclusion of the family dynamic would definitely break many barriers to women’s participation in conservation. We need a more ‘family-friendly’ world!

There are so many possibilities! Firstly – there is need to embrace the multiple positions/roles that women play, and design systems that embrace those roles; making it easier for women to do their jobs. I’ve already mentioned family-friendly workspaces for women and girls. Continued promotion of gender equality and equity is also very important if women are to advance in conservation. Women could also be supported through various training and capacity-building initiatives, equipping them to get out into the world and do great things.

A piece of advice for aspiring female conservationists

Question: What advice can you give to other females who would want to pursue conservation career ?

Answer: (i) It is possible. You need to get out there update yourself on what is happening and do not be afraid to put yourself out there, learn new skills; and interact with the world. #DoNotBeAfraidOfHardWork

(ii) There is a lot we can learn from our communities – not all knowledge is found in books! Do not be a ‘know all’… keep an open and curious mind; allow yourself to learn from people from all walks of life.

(iii) Let your voice be heard! Also network, network, network!

Exciting memories

Question: What are the most exciting or memorable experiences in your job ?

Answer : The most exciting times are always when I am handling a live wild bird, those times distinctly stand out for me. Other experiences are a bit adrenaline-filled; including being chased by an elephant in musth to having my thumb sliced by a Pied Kingfisher! All great learning experiences by the way!

Most challenging experiences

Question :What are the most challenging experiences in your Job ?

Answer: Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is a real task!

Wildlife Conservation

Question: Why is it Important to protect and conserve wildlife

Answer: It might seem like the human being is the apex predator that somewhat lives outside of the ecosystems, but this is grossly inaccurate and I hope a lot of people realize this. We are part of the environment and of wildlife. If we neglect to conserve nature, we are bound to pay the price in currencies that are extremely unfriendly including climate change, high zoonotic disease incidences, and more pandemics. I am certain we all really would just rather coexist with nature than face all these disasters.

Favorite Animal

Question: What is your favorite animal and why?

Answer: I may have several favorites, but I think the tortoise might just win – such beauty and grace!

Thank you

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