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Lethukuthula Mhlongo

2019 intern.

Lethukuthula Mhlongo is fascinated by the interplay between people and nature. He has made it his goal to ensure that future generations can enjoy the natural wonders that he has been fortunate to experience.

With a Bachelor of Science degree in Botany and Zoology and an Honours degree in Botany from Nelson Mandela University, Lethukuthula is an Environmental Officer intern at Sea Harvest’s aquaculture finfish farm, where he has been tasked with ensuring that the farm aligns with the environmental sustainability standards set by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council.

We asked him to share some of his experiences:

What motivated your career choice?
I spent most of my childhood outdoors, getting my hands dirty and playing in a nearby river with friends. We used to collect tadpoles but at some point, construction started next to the river. Soon there were no tadpoles left. It was only later that I connected their disappearance to the construction. Once I noticed the impact of human activity on the surrounding environment, it became difficult to ignore. That was the start of my curiosity around the relationship between people and nature and I became determined to make a positive change to conserve the natural world.
What do you hope to gain from the internship?
The practical experience has strengthened my theoretical knowledge and I hope that this will help me to conduct meaningful work and enjoy a fulfilling career.
What excites you the most about the internship?
Getting to work alongside Scientists who are working on ideas and solutions to ensure the future of our natural world is exciting. I’m excited that I get to set out my work agenda and learn how to manage my time.
What do you think is the biggest environmental issue the world is facing right now?
Microplastics are not getting the attention they deserve. Ten years from now, it will be a massive problem to address.
What contribution do you wish to make to the well-being of people and nature?
My passion lies in the rehabilitation of freshwater systems that people rely on for recreational purposes. Understanding why the tadpoles I collected as a child later disappeared, drives me towards protecting natural ecosystems that are overlooked during human-related activities.  
If you had a chance to change one thing in the world, what would it be?
I would go back to the way our ancestors lived. They understood that life is sustained by nature (and vice versa) and is key to our survival.
Who do you admire the most and why?
My mother has been the rock in my life, always pushing me to improve myself. I’m also proud of how far I’ve come because of my versatility and adaptability.
What role do you think your generation could play in creating a better world for all?
I think the most important role my generation can play is to be active citizens that unite to solve the problems we face. We have to stop shifting the blame to others and take responsibility.

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