#WOMENCRUSHWEDNESDAY: STORY OF ANGELLA KABIRA
Who is Angella Kabira
Angella is a bubbly Christian wife, mother and biodiversity fanatic!
She holds an MSc in Environmental Informatics from the University of Leicester in the UK and a BSc (Hon) in Forest Resources and Wildlife Management from NUST. Angella works for the Government of Zimbabwe as a Principal Natural Resources Officer in the Ministry of Environment, Climate Tourism and Hospitality Industry. She has vast experience in Ecology. Her responsibilities involve spearheading and monitoring biodiversity, wetlands and ecology related programs, projects and events done by the Ministry and its agencies, development partners and other stakeholders. She was the first in her family of seven to study the sciences and eventually earn degrees in environmental science. Angela is a passionate young woman who is motivated by expectations, goals, and dreams. Angela likes to call herself the biodiversity expert!! .
"I have strong faith that whatsoever one desires, prays and believes for will always come to manifestation."
Her Source of inspiration and motivation
Question : Who is your inspiration and what motivates you to do your job?
Answer : My late mum, Julia Evangelista, was, and I know will always be, my number one fan. She always told me to go for my dreams and never give up. She was always there for me and
always rejoiced with me whenever I made some form of achievement no matter how small. I always hold dearly to my heart her advice, her guidance and how she believed in me even when I had no hope and didn’t believe in myself. She inspired me to be the woman I am today nurturing me and molding me spiritually and emotionally.
Knowing that my work has lasting impacts on both human and animal generations to come
motivates me to do my work. Conservation efforts today will determine the kind of environment our children will inherit from us and the state in which our wildlife, biodiversity and other natural resources will be in tomorrow. Working on environment policy related issues gives me the confidence that Zimbabwe is in a good position to create a healthy, balanced and sustainable environment for both people and wildlife.
Questions : What are the most exciting and challenging experiences of your work?
Answer : I would say travelling is the most exciting part of my job. Not tourism travel but travelling to participate in local, regional and international conferences, symposiums and meetings ensuring our concerns and input as Zimbabwe in the conservation domain are included in whatever international decisions have to be made. Currently we, together with other parties to the CBD, are discussing the elements of the new Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework which is expected to bring transformative change to biodiversity conservation over the next decade and it has been an exciting journey just seeing our input reflected in the global document. At such platforms, I get the opportunity to interface with high ranking participants from other countries and get into serious discussions that will influence conservation for generations to come. I have had the honor of representing my country at such high level meetings where the conservation discourse is mapped. And yes, I get to see the world in the process!!
The most challenging experience usually comes with doing fieldwork and monitoring assessments when we go for days on rough terrain to conduct biodiversity assessments or
conduct stakeholder consultations. The roads, the weather and the wild animals are usually
your worst allies. I still remember vividly, 12 years later, the day an elephant bull chased me
and my team in Mana Pools National Park in 2010 as though it has just happened!! Looking
back, it is scary but those moments go down in history as exciting experiences that have also
further nurtured the ecologist in me. The data we collect during field excursions is of paramount importance to the development of science informed policy so every experience is worth it.
Challenges being faced by women in conservation
Question: What are the challenges being faced by women in conservation and what can be done to address them?
Answer : Globally, women seem not to have an equivalent voice as their male peers when it comes to decision making on conservation matters. Stereotyping is a serious issue that tends to undermine women in the conservation domain. Equity and full engagement and participation are however, critical for sound decision making. Women need to give themselves a voice and speak!!
We notice even when we conduct monitoring assessments that access to and use of most natural resources is done by women and they have a wealth of information. The same applies in the formal office, class, industry setting- women are knowledgeable about environmental issues they just need to be given the right platform and they will flourish. I am
glad that the new biodiversity framework I alluded to earlier has a strong Gender Plan of Action which envisions to strengthen the participation of women, girls, boys and youths equitably in conservation related decision making. Such tools go a long way is correcting
some of the existing stereotypes.
The other biggest challenges for women is on having to balance life’s other commitments
with one’s career. Balancing family and fieldwork is not as easy as it may look!
Advise to upcoming conservationists
GET INVOLVED : Yes, start somewhere. The Ministry has a lot of events, workshops were
conservation issues are discussed and deliberated on. Try and participate in as many as you
can and grow your knowledge base. We also have partnerships with a lot of youth organizations doing wonders in biodiversity conservation, clean up campaigns and climate
change- join them and experience the feel of working for your environment. Especially the
young girls never look down upon yourself, be proactive. You can also approach my office for further guidance and information on how to get involved. I would also advise upcoming conservationists to visit protected areas in Zimbabwe and tell the conservation stories that
need to be told and bridge the gaps that need to be bridged. You don’t have to be formally
employed to play your part. I know a few young men and women who have registered conservations trusts all out of their passion for wildlife. Do not let procrastination and waiting
for a better day hold you back, just start somewhere
That would be the iconic African Elephant (Loxodonta africana). I always love seeing elephants gracefully walking on the soft sands of Hwange National Park, it is always a sight to marvel. For me just looking at any animal that I have studied in depth is magical, knowing its names, its breeding and feeding patterns and understanding behaviors just by looking at them is exciting. I however, like birds the most thanks to Professor Peter Mundy from NUST and my 1 year stint on attachment at Birdlife Zimbabwe. Seeing a Kurrichane Thrush or Southern Yellow-bellied Weaver in the garden from my bedroom window and a Black Shouldered Kite perched on the electric cables is so exhilarating especially knowing that
everyone else just sees a bird but I know their names and sounds!. There is a caged ornithologist somewhere deep in me, maybe one day just one day I will set her free!!