A leading conservationist, veterinarian, founder and CEO – Dr Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka
Dr Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka has always loved animals. Even before she reached her teens, the precocious young student established a wildlife club at her school in Kampala, and organised trips to Queen Elizabeth National Park. Her dedication to the natural world only grew as the years went by, culminating in a scholarship to the Royal Veterinary College in London. Between 1996 and 2000, she set up the first Veterinary Unit at the Uganda Wildlife Authority, serving as the country’s first full-time veterinarian. Today Kalema-Zikusoka holds a Masters in Veterinary Science, a Masters in Global Business and Sustainability, and a Certificate in Non-Profit Management – all of which have prepared her well for her role as Founder and CEO of Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH).
CTPH is not just any conservation organisation. Marrying wildlife conservation with initiatives designed to improve public health and provide alternative, sustainable livelihoods for rural communities in Uganda, this integrative approach has met with considerable success. For her role in driving the organisation, Kalema-Zikusoka has received a number of awards and distinctions. In 2008 she was presented with San Diego Zoo’s Conservation in Action Award, and a year later received the 2009 Whitley Gold Award (known as the “Green Oscars” of the conservation world) for outstanding leadership in grassroots nature conservation. A trailblazer for women in conservation and the business world, she received the 2011 Wings World Quest Women of Discovery Humanitarian Award and was named Africa’s Most Influential Woman in Business and Government in 2014, in the Medicine and Veterinary category.
She didn’t stop there either. 2017 saw Kalema-Zikusoka receive two honours: first, the World Wildlife Day Award from Uganda’s Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities for her outstanding contribution to conservation in Uganda. Then, on International Women’s Day, the Golden Jubilee Award was presented to Kalema-Zikusoka by Yoweri Museveni, the President of Uganda, for her distinguished service to the nation as a veterinarian and conservationist. Most recently, the decorated doctor was honoured with the prestigious EarthCare Award from the Sierra Club, and was inducted into the ranks of National Geographic’s Explorers, receiving a grant that allowed her to expand the integrated gorilla and human health model at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park that she and the CTPH team have helped to pioneer.