Statistically assessing nature: A WWF intern’s journey begins | WWF South Africa

Statistically assessing nature: A WWF intern’s journey begins



Posted on 21 June 2017
Combining his passion for numbers and his love for the outdoors, 26-year-old Mujaahid Philander has found the perfect balance in forging his career as a Statistical Ecologist.
© WWF-SA
Combining his passion for numbers and his love for the outdoors, 26-year-old Mujaahid Philander has found the perfect balance in forging his career as a Statistical Ecologist. 

Having majored in Statistics, which he coupled with a conservation qualification, Mujaahid has created an interesting combination to hone a critically scarce skill in the conservation sector. 

While interning with the South African National Biodiversity Institute, he will be using his statistical  expertise in doing fieldwork, conducting surveys and field mapping, statistical analysis and interpreting land cover data.
We caught up with him to find out what drives his ambitions.

What was your calling to this career?
It started from an early age during my scouting career where I learnt to appreciate nature. I shared invaluable moments in nature which led me to my passion around conserving and understanding nature - to conserve what we have so that other generations will have the same opportunity to share what I once enjoyed.
 
What do you aim to get out of your internship?
I want to learn and improve my skillset and to practically apply theoretical knowledge of my field of study within the workplace. This will enable me to achieve my personal goals and in turn, I can help others in achieving theirs.
 
What issue do you want to be a part of resolving?
I would like to play a part in conserving and protecting the Karoo.  If fracking has to take place I would want to be involved in ensuring that the environment is affected in the least possible way.  I would also like to be a part of protection of endangered wildlife specifically the Bengal tiger.
 
If you could change one thing in this world, what would it be? 
I feel that if people started caring about things other than themselves and their own surroundings then big changes will happen. Dr Seuss says: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.”
 
Who inspires you most?
People who are passionate about what they do and not driven by money or fame but purely to maintain, change and/or improve the situations and conditions they find themselves in.
 
What kind of role(s) do you think your generation could play in creating a better world for all?
I think our generation is in fact the generation that holds the possibility of creating a better world. Changing mind-sets and good habits is no real benefit to previous generations and therefore needs to be embedded in the future, to respect and uphold what we choose and what we deem important. So by creating awareness of important factors and by educating individuals can definitely improve our futures generations response when it come to the environment.
 
Creating more opportunities for future generations to play a role in conserving the environment will help them to love and appreciate what we have now and what’s at stake if it’s lost.
 
"In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we are taught." (Baba Dioum, 1968.)
 
What makes our country’s future so bright?
Realising that we have the ability to change the future through technology and a “can do”, positive attitude.
Combining his passion for numbers and his love for the outdoors, 26-year-old Mujaahid Philander has found the perfect balance in forging his career as a Statistical Ecologist.
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