Uganda, Born 1970
Dr Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka has won acclaim for her pioneering programme linking public health with the conservation of an endangered species, the charismatic gorilla that shares over 98 per cent of its DNA with humans.
“Helping the gorillas is about helping the people. It has to go hand in hand,” says the veterinary surgeon.
Kalema-Zikusoka decided at an early age to devote her life to her passion — wild animals. As a teenager, she started a student wildlife club in Kampala before embarking on her veterinary studies in London, at the Royal Veterinary College, and then at North Carolina State University. Upon her return to Uganda in 1996, she became her country’s first wildlife veterinary officer, developing a wildlife conservation policy and highlighting the cross-contamination between humans and wildlife.
In 2002, she founded Conservation Through Public Health, which is reducing the risk of mountain gorillas falling prey to human ailments in Uganda’s remote Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, while improving the lives of the local people.
The recipient of the 2008 San Diego Zoological Society’s Conservation Medal and the Whitley Gold Award (2009), Kalema-Zikusoka has been the subject of four television documentaries and of a popular children’s book, Gladys Working as a Wildlife Vet. She frequently mentors young veterinarians.
Published in 2010