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Nobuhle Mweli

2021 Intern

One of the ways in which Nobuhle Mweli hopes to use her skills and experience as an Ecologist intern is by promoting sustainable use of natural resources through research and environmental education.

Nobuhle has an Honours degree in Ecological Sciences and is doing her MSc degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. In her internship journey with the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency she is involved in biodiversity monitoring, and GIS mapping and assessment of indigenous vegetation in nature reserves within the game and recreation cluster of the park. She also manages wildlife data for long-term conservation and monitoring.

Nobuhle shares insights into her journey:

What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about nature conservation, particularly the restoration and rehabilitation of degraded ecosystems, as well as the sustainable use of natural resources. Environmental education is also close to my heart. Being a young black woman in conservation allows me a great opportunity to educate and engage with people, especially rural communities, about the importance of nature conservation and the long-term benefits thereof. They mostly feel the pinch of malfunctioning ecological infrastructures because they rely more on natural resources to sustain their lives.

What inspired your choice of study?
When I was young, I spent a lot of time outdoors with my father. He ensured that we always had something to do or somewhere to explore nature. This experience influenced my career and the activities I do as an adult. When I started gaining new knowledge of our environment during my studies in Ecological Sciences, I realised that I was at the right place. I enjoyed the entire course, especially the practical part of it. Doing postgraduate studies helped me find my career passion, such as becoming a field-based researcher.

What excites you about your internship?
I am most excited about working with and learning from my mentor as much as possible. Working in nature reserves is something new and different for me, so I look forward to performing vegetation assessments and improving my GIS mapping skills in this space. Furthermore, I am excited to learn about conservation techniques that will contribute immensely to my future aspirations as an Ecologist.

What are your expectations of this internship?
I expect to get out of my comfort zone, work on new projects and have fun while doing so. I want to improve my skills in plant identification and use various research techniques when conducting scientific studies. Plus, I want to expand my professional communication and networking skills.

What contribution do you hope to make towards a future in which people and nature thrive?
I hope to contribute to research and the monitoring of environmental systems. I also want to get involved in environmental education, especially with young people, so they grow up understanding the importance of environmental conservation.

Who inspires you the most and why?
Career-wise, Dr Sindiso Nkuna inspires me. She has been my mentor, teaching and helping me grow in the field. Her character, passion and willingness to help others have encouraged me to be a better version of myself and push beyond my limits.

Personally, it is my mother. She is strong-willed and has carried us through life with much love and humility. All her teachings built my character, and she instilled values that make me always strive to be the best I can be and remember that respect goes a long way.

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