“This internship has allowed me the opportunity to put my qualifications to use and has also taken me a step closer to my future career through conservation and environmental education, as well as research.”
Babalwa was born the first of four siblings in Bizana in the Eastern Cape and grew up in KwaZulu- Natal. Through her enjoyment of biology in high school, she developed a fascination with animal life and the way in which organisms interact with the environment. As a young learner, the study of life and finding out why things happen the way that they do interested her.
Babalwa began to channel this passion into a career path through her undergraduate degree in Biological Science at the University of Zululand and an Honours and Masters degree in Ecological Sciences through the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Her studies gave her the opportunity to explore different terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and have prepared her to operate as an ecologist in a range of professional and environmental contexts.
Babalwa is based on the South Coast of South Africa at Nature’s Valley Trust – a conservation NGO that focuses on community-based education and research. Her role is to lead a research project in aquatic conservation and management. She is also involved in other conservation projects and environmental education programmes. Babalwa’s role satisfies her broad interest in conservation, which includes the human elements, such as monitoring and mitigation of adverse human impacts on the environment. She believes that negative impacts, such as alien invasion and water contamination, have severely affected freshwater systems and reduced water flow, making it important to be involved in control and mitigation methods in the conservation of aquatic systems.
Babalwa is passionate about helping people and finds satisfaction in knowing that she has made a difference is someone’s life through her work. She intends to pursue her PhD and develop herself as a professional environmentalist and ecologist, focusing on aquatic or terrestrial conservation. She hopes one day to hold a position as a senior researcher at a successful environmental organisation.