In the heart of Uganda’s lush landscapes, where the endangered mountain gorillas find sanctuary, Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka has dedicated 27 years to their well-being. As the country’s first wildlife veterinarian, her journey is one of unwavering commitment, resilience, and groundbreaking achievements in the realm of wildlife conservation.
Born on 8 January 1970, Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka’s path to becoming a trailblazer in her field began with her studies at the Royal Veterinary College in London. Armed with knowledge and a deep passion for wildlife, she returned to Uganda and, in a pivotal move, established the first veterinary department within the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Her role as a guardian of Uganda’s mountain gorillas is nothing short of heroic. Dr. Kalema-Zikusoka has been instrumental in navigating the challenges posed by climate change, striving to protect the habitat of these endangered species. Her dedication and expertise have not gone unnoticed, earning her a well-deserved spot on the prestigious BBC’s 100 Women for 2023 list.
Beyond her remarkable contributions on the ground, Dr. Kalema-Zikusoka has been recognized on a global scale. In December 2021, she was proclaimed a United Nations Environment Programme’s Champion of the Earth for Science and Innovation. This esteemed accolade honors her outstanding work with the One Health initiative, an approach that recognizes the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health.
As an accomplished author, Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka shares her incredible journey in the book “Walking with Gorillas: The Journey of an African Wildlife Vet.” The memoir not only provides insights into her experiences but also serves as an inspiration for aspiring conservationists and advocates for the protection of our planet’s precious biodiversity.
Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka’s legacy is not just in the countless lives she has touched but in the blueprint she has created for the future of wildlife conservation. Her tireless efforts exemplify the impact that one individual can have on preserving the natural world for generations to come. In celebrating her achievements, we also celebrate the vital importance of safeguarding the delicate balance between humanity and the remarkable creatures that share our planet.