She pioneered the first wildlife translocation to restock Uganda's national parks following years of poaching during Uganda's civil wars
Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, born 8 January 1970 is a Ugandan veterinarian and founder of Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH), an organisation dedicated to the coexistence of endangered mountain gorillas, other wildlife, humans, and livestock in Africa.
She was Uganda's first wildlife veterinary officer and was the star of the BBC documentary, Gladys the African Vet. Kalema went to Kabale Preparatory and Kitante Primary schools, before moving to Kenya and Scotland for O’ level. She returned for her A’ levels at King’s College Buddo and Kibuli Secondary School. She won a scholarship to study at the University of London Royal Veterinary College, graduating with a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine.
In 2003, she obtained a Master of Veterinary Medicine from North Carolina State University. She also holds a certificate in the management of non-profit organizations, obtained from Duke University. Her most recent academic achievement is a Master of Business Administration, obtained in 2016.
At 25, she was appointed veterinary officer for the Ugandan Wildlife Service, which later merged with Uganda's national parks to become the Uganda Wildlife Authority and she was the first woman in Uganda to hold that position.
She pioneered the first wildlife translocation to restock Uganda's national parks following years of poaching during Uganda's civil wars. As part of her veterinary research, she identified parasite transmission from humans to mountain gorillas as a significant risk factor for gorillas. Following her demonstration of pathways for human diseases to harm or kill gorillas, Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, Lawrence Zikusoka, and Stephen Rubanga then founded Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) to improve both human and ecological health in Africa.
CTPH is a non-profit organisation based in Uganda and the USA that conducts programs that protect gorillas and other wildlife from human and livestock disease risk; that reduce human and livestock diseases in the vicinity of wildlife; that increase the local use of family planning; and use of Information/Communication Technology both to help local development and to educate people about the environment. Kalema is the CEO of the organisation.
CTPH was founded in 2003. In 2015, CTPH established a program called Gorilla Conservation Coffee. Under this arrangement, the non-profit improves the livelihood of the surrounding community by assisting in getting international market prices for the community's Arabica coffee crop. With increased incomes, the community's illnesses and disease burden is reduced. Hence less disease is transferred to the resident gorillas. Also, a small fee is charged and retained by the farmers, whenever tourists traverse their gardens, when on gorilla treks through the community.
Over the years, Kalema has bagged a number of honours, awards and other public recognition of her environmental and humanitarian work.
• In 2006, Kalema was elected to an Ashoka Fellowship.
• In 2007, Seed Magazine named her one of their eight Revolutionary Minds in Science. Kalema was profiled in the BBC documentary, Gladys, the African Vet. She has also been featured in documentaries in National Geographic channel, Animal Planet, M-Net and Uganda Television.
• She was chosen among nine international environmental leaders to write a letter to the next US President in Sierra Club Magazine, in the November/December 2008 issue.
• In 2008, the San Diego Zoo gave her its Conservation-in-Action award.
• In 2009, she won the Whitley Gold Award, the top prize awarded in what has been considered the “Green Oscars”.
• In 2018, Kalema was awarded the Earth Care Award by the US-based Sierra Club. This was in recognition of her unique contribution to international environmental protection and conservation, owing to her work in environmental protection and co-existence between communities and mountain gorillas in Uganda. She received the award on September 29 last year, at a ceremony that was held in Denver, Colorado, in the US.