Thandi Mweetwa ~ Zambian Carnivore Program

Thandi Mweetwa grew up in Mfuwe, a small town in the Eastern Province of Zambia. Her first encounter with wildlife biology was when she was twelve years old. It became her passion, and through this enthusiasm, she ended up graduating from British Columbia with a BSc in Applied Animal Biology. This was followed by further studies at the University of Arizona, where she graduated with a Masters in Natural Resources Conservation. Her pivotal role at the Zambian Carnivore Program is as a community educator, senior ecologist, and — of course — an inspiration for other young women to walk beside her in the conservation and research field.

  • What is the best and worst decision you’ve ever made?

Best: Getting a membership at the Yosefe Library. The books in there opened a whole new world for me.
Worst: Enrolling for the mammal anatomy and physiology course that involved dissecting pig foetuses. I hated the labs.

  • What was your dream job as a kid and why?

I wanted to be an Agricultural extension officer so I could ride one of the big motorbikes that the Ministry of Agriculture workers used to travel to different farms.

  • What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?

I think it’s not being taken seriously and the many assumptions and expectations placed on female leaders.

  • What woman inspires you and why?

Wangari Maathai. She did her work during a time of extreme opposition and threat to her life. Despite all the adversity, she achieved so much during her lifetime and left a great legacy.

  • What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?

Breaking gender stereotypes that seem to have survived for decades.