Champions of the Earth - Ugandan Vet Protecting People, Wildlife

Dr. Kalema-Zikusoka become the first-ever wildlife veterinarian for the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Much of her work has been in impoverished East African communities that border protected areas, where she has helped improve healthcare and create economic opportunities, turning many locals into partners in conservation.

There, she began to apply what was a new approach to working for wildlife - one that centred on improving lives and livelihoods in the remote villages that surrounded Bwindi. Conservation Through Public Health, the organization she founded, has expanded its model of village health to protected areas near Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as to two non-protected areas of Mount Elgon National Park in Uganda. In addition to promoting hygiene and good sanitation practices, the teams also support family planning.

Conflict between people and animals is one of the main threats to the long-term survival of some of the world's most iconic species, according to a report from World Wide Fund for Nature and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). In many countries like Uganda, the conflict, coupled with health risks of COVID-19 has further imperiled endangered species. Kalema-Zikusoka worked with national park staff to encourage visitors and rangers to wear masks, not just to prevent transmission amongst themselves of COVID-19, but also to protect the gorillas, who can be infected by human-borne pathogens.

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InFocus

Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, honoured in the Science and Innovation category, was the first-ever wildlife veterinarian of the Uganda Wildlife Authority, and is a recognised world authority on primates and zoonotic diseases

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