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Emma Wright

2023 Intern

There is little wonder that Emma Wright falls asleep every night with a science podcast infiltrating her brain through her earphones. She is a sponge for knowledge but also enjoys crossing the boundary into science fiction as a cultural form so she can grapple with the deeper meaning of human life on Earth.

Passionate about tackling the climate crisis, Emma completed her MSc at the University of Cape Town and will be interning with South African National Parks (SANParks) as a conservation scientist. She will be assisting with integrating climate change adaptation plans into conservation management.

What are you passionate about?

Since childhood, I have been in love with science and biology. I played with science kits, decorated my walls with images from nature, memorised the names of birds and walked around the garden in khaki clothing noting down species I could see. Once I got older, I also discovered how much I loved learning. I am incredibly passionate about education, and obsessing over how everything works and how we can learn from it.

What inspired your choice of study?

I grew up in Gauteng with nature-loving parents who exposed me to the outdoors at an early age. I always wanted to be outside, whether hiking in the Drakensberg, camping in the Tankwa Karoo or snorkelling along the False Bay coastline. Eventually, my passion for science and the natural world evolved into a diverse academic programme that culminated in a double major in Evolution, and Ecology and Conservation and ultimately, Master’s in Conservation Biology.

What excites you about your internship?

I am excited about the places I will be going and the projects I will be working on, but I am most excited about getting my first real experience of what it is like working in conservation. I am eager to learn from my mentor and other colleagues and look forward to working on climate change projects at SANParks. I am also pleased to be part of WWF, fulfilling a childhood dream I once thought was unreachable.

What are your expectations of this internship?

I am expecting to learn how academic science is integrated into conservation management, and I am hoping to gain valuable experience in dealing with different stakeholders with opposing needs and wants. I hope this experience will set me up with some of the skills and knowledge I need for the future.

What contribution do you hope to make towards a future in which people and nature thrive?

I hope to contribute to interdisciplinary research on how we as people can thrive with nature. I would like to be involved in innovation that develops new solutions, and monitoring and evaluation that ensures decisions are informed by what works.

Who inspires you most and why?

The people I have met in conservation from across southern Africa inspire me the most. People on this continent face personal and societal challenges every day, but those committed to conservation encourage me to keep going and to be hopeful about the future of our society.

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