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Yonela Mahamba 2

Yonela Mahamba

2021 Intern

A field trip to a nature reserve on the Wild Coast during her undergraduate studies in Zoology at Walter Sisulu University ignited the spark in Yonela Mahamba’s interest in Marine Biology. She then chose to explore the marine world further through her Honours and Master’s degrees in Zoology, at the same institution. Her projects focused on the diversity and distribution of intertidal organisms within different levels of protection in non-reserve areas.

When the WWF internship presented itself, she did not waste time. She was placed as a Marine Biologist intern with South African National Parks (SANParks) based at their Cape Research Centre in the Western Cape. In her role, she conducts research and surveys and monitors marine protected areas in the Table Mountain, West Coast and Namaqua national parks, as well as Robben Island.

We wanted to learn more about Yonela. So, we asked her to tell us about her passion and aspirations:

What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about nature, especially the marine environment. I also love sharing knowledge with other people about the state of our natural resources and their many benefits.

What inspired your choice of study?
While doing my undergraduate studies at Walter Sisulu University, I went on a rocky shore field trip to the Wild Coast with my class, where we explored the diversity and adaptation of the various species found there. I became fascinated and developed an instant connection with the ocean. Since then, I have been eager to learn more about the sea and its many benefits to humans. That encouraged me to study further.

What excites you about your internship?
What excites me about my internship is its alignment with what I studied and what I’d love to pursue in my career journey. It also gives me an excellent opportunity to apply my academic knowledge and gain real-world experience in a working environment.

What are your expectations of this internship?
I wish to gain practical experience and the necessary skill set to enhance my professional development and improve my competence in the workplace. Besides that, I am looking forward to gaining more insight into the application of science in conserving our marine environment.

What contribution do you hope to make towards a future in which people and nature thrive?
I hope to be more involved in efforts aimed at conserving marine resources. It is essential to raise awareness about how our choices threaten marine ecosystems and what we can do to make a difference. Awareness can play a crucial role in building a strong relationship between people and the oceans and the responsible use of our marine resources for future generations.

Who inspires you the most and why?
The person who inspires me the most is my mother. She has always been my pillar of strength throughout my journey in life. I commend her strength and resilience, which has shaped me into the strong independent woman I am today. Her drive and passion for recycling and growing her own vegetables inspire and motivate me to advocate for a clean and healthy environment.

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