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Siphelele Dyantyi

Siphelele Dyantyi

2021 Intern

Siphelele Dyantyi is a young man of many passions – from exploring marine and estuarine environments to participating in scientific research and communicating science.

Through the WWF internship programme, he secured a position as a Marine Ecologist intern at SANParks’ Rondevlei Scientific Services Unit. He is based in Sedgefield – close to Knysna, along the south coast of the Western Cape. In this exciting role, Siphelele assists with conducting roving creel surveys of the Swartvlei and Knysna estuaries. He's also involved in research using baited remote underwater video (BRUV) technology in the Tsitsikama Marine Protected Area.

Siphelele has an Honours degree in Geography from Walter Sisulu University and a Master’s degree in Zoology from Rhodes University.

He shares some insights into his journey:

What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about science-based fieldwork. I find it fun and relaxing, and it creates a balance in my work because I am not always in the office.

Science communication is a passion that I have recently developed. I believe it is crucial to engage with stakeholders, including the general public that is affected and interested in the work and research that one does. Science generates relevant information that can be useful to key stakeholders for the sustainable management of resources. The only way to transfer this knowledge is by engaging with people at all levels.

What inspired your choice of study?
I enjoyed Physical Geography in high school. From there, I decided that I wanted to become an environmentalist, but I had no idea what it would entail. The following year I enrolled for a BSc. Environmental Studies programme at Walter Sisulu University. In my final year, I went on a field trip to Durban with my class, and we visited the Beachwood Mangrove Nature Reserve, where I was exposed to an intriguing coastal habitat. This marked the beginning of my shift into the marine and estuarine fields.

What excites you about your internship?
This internship feels like a second chance in a marine science career. I am in a new location, meeting new people, and in a new institution. But I am most excited about the scope of learning new things that I did not imagine would interest me. My excitement is also about becoming a better-rounded scientist in marine and estuarine sciences.

What are your expectations of this internship?
I wish to be exposed to, and be involved in various projects that will advance my early career. I also expect to receive adequate resources that will enable me to develop myself, such as enrolling for courses like Statistics, Ecology and Environmental Management. It would also be great to do tasks that will challenge and engage my knowledge and problem-solving skills. Lastly, I wish to create networks amongst well-established scientists and gain new skills and experience in areas I am passionate about.

What contribution do you hope to make towards a future in which people and nature thrive?
I want to gain and spread knowledge about how ecosystems function. Providing solutions to how we, as humans, can lessen the impact of our activities is what I would like to contribute to the future. If people could learn to appreciate and highly value what nature offers us, it would go a long way in ensuring that both people and nature thrive.

Who inspires you the most and why?
I have met several people who have played different roles in my life – as friends, colleagues, mentors and supervisors. Each person has one or a few qualities that are essential in life. These include ambition to go for what one wants, zeal towards building their career, steadfastness in one’s values and morals, and making a valuable contribution in one’s field of work.

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