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Mvana Sibiya

2019 intern

It was during his time at university that Mvana Sibiya first learned about the detrimental effects of alien invasive species and the work that organisations like WWF and the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) have been doing to mitigate these impacts.

Alien invasive plant species can be devastating because they absorb large amounts of water and take up space that is needed to maintain lush crops and cattle.

With a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological and Ecological Sciences and a Master of Science degree in Ecological Sciences from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Mvana is an Ecologist intern at SANBI.
We wanted to find out more about his determination to make a significant contribution to this area of work:

What motivated your career choice?
I have always been fascinated by the science of life and I chose to focus on plant invasion ecology while I was at university. I developed an interest in Plant Ecology but I did not know much about invasive alien plant species. Learning about this inspired me to study what is being done to mitigate the risks posed to our biodiversity, economy, and livelihoods while exploring how I could help limit these threats.
What do you hope to gain from the internship?
I want to hone the skills I acquired while doing my Master of Science degree in pollination and reproductive biology of invasive plants. It is exciting to have the chance to interact with specialists in various fields such as Genetics, Microbiology and Biochemistry. I hope to gain more knowledge of Geographic Information Systems and advance my communication skills so that when an opportunity presents itself, in terms of educating the public or scholars, I can explain the issues well to inspire and encourage many more people to conserve our natural environment.
What excites you the most about the internship?
Working in the field is exciting for me. I work with vegetation that I have only seen in textbooks. This internship has allowed me to witness wonderful sights and terrain in the Western Cape.

It has also offered skills development sessions like project management, which are important for an aspiring Scientist.

What do you think is the biggest environmental issue the world is facing right now?
Climate change is our biggest problem and although many people are trying to reduce their carbon footprint, we are on a path that will be difficult to reverse.
What contribution do you wish to make to the well-being of people and nature?
Many people do not understand the importance of the natural environment. I make it my mission to spread awareness of how people and nature are connected so that people understand why it is important to conserve nature and its resources.
If you had a chance to change one thing in the world, what would it be?
If I could, I would let the people govern rather than leaving all the power in the hands of politicians. If people could take charge, I believe that more needs would be met.

Who do you admire the most and why?
I admire myself and anyone who makes things happen, rather than waiting for somebody else to make a change. This is because these people are the ones that take action for real change and come up with the ideas that transform lives for the better.
What role do you think your generation could play in creating a better world for all?
We have the energy and motivation to be proactive and we have a single goal that drives us to step out of our comfort zones.

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