Dr Luthando Dziba, Regional Director for East Africa, Madagascar and the West Indian Ocean, Wildlife Conservation Society.

By Jessie Taylor

A leading voice in South African conservation has taken on a role on the global stage, working to preserve the world’s wild spaces. Dr Luthando Dziba, the Managing Executive for conservation services at South African National Parks (SANParks), has been appointed as regional director for East Africa, Madagascar and the West Indian Ocean at the Wildlife Conservation Society. He took up the role as of April 2023 and is based in Kigali, Rwanda.

Saving Wildlife Through Education

Dr Dziba is a renowned conservationist and brings more than 15 years of experience in the conservation and nature-based tourism sectors to the Wildlife Conservation Society. Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places across the globe through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. The Wildlife Conservation Society runs a Global Conservation Program in nearly 60 countries as well as five wildlife parks in New York City, which are visited by four million people annually. The Wildlife Conservation Society combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquariums to achieve its conservation mission.

Following his appointment Dr Emma Stokes, Wildlife Conservation Society Vice President of Field Conservation, said: “We look forward to welcoming Dr Dziba to Wildlife Conservation Society’s Global Conservation Program. He brings with him extensive management and conservation leadership experience, along with a passion for science and policy.” Dr Dziba leads a team of Wildlife Conservation Society colleagues across Madagascar, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. He is looking to strengthen and expand the Wildlife Conservation Society’s conservation impact in the region, added Dr Stokes.

The Global Conservation Program leads the organisation’s mission to conserve a portfolio of the world’s largest and most ecologically intact wild places on the planet. These areas provide habitat for more than half of the world’s biodiversity, supporting abundant populations of the world’s most magnificent wildlife, and sustaining over 300 million of the world’s most vulnerable people.

Through its regional programmes, Wildlife Conservation Society builds capacity and support via partnerships with indigenous peoples, local communities, local decision-makers, regional stakeholders, and national governments.

A Leading Voice In Conservation

Dr Dziba joined SANParks five and half years ago to lead the conservation services division. The organisation has described him as “an invaluable member of the SANParks team”, adding that he has been “the voice of SANParks on matters related to conservation nationally and internationally. At SANParks, Dr Dziba led various programmes, including veterinary services, scientific services, conservation planning, and cultural heritage, which covered a wide range of areas that contribute to SANParks’ core mandate. He also led SANPark’s participation in international agreements such as Transfrontier Conservation Areas.

SANParks Acting CEO Property

Mokoena said: “Dr Dziba’s leadership in SANParks has been felt in our conservation work in all national parks. He and his team have led a number of key initiatives, including rhino and elephant conservation, conservation of large predators, protected area expansion, improved management of cultural heritage, innovative conservation finance and advancing conservation research.” Dr Dziba has also advanced collaboration with stakeholders across various conservation landscapes, said Mr Makoena.

He continues his passion for conservation at a regional scale and contribute to conservation across the African landscape and beyond. “He leaves SANParks at a crucial time but his contribution to conservation will continue,” Mr Makoena said. “SANParks is confident that Dr Dziba will continue to make a positive impact and will advance collaboration between South Africa (especially SANParks) and other international institutions that share the duty of conserving biodiversity across African landscapes.”

Before joining SANParks, Dr Dziba managed the Ecosystem Services research area at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), leading a team of more than 50 researchers undertaking cutting-edge research on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, Coastal Systems and Earth Observation. He has has served as an advisor to South Africa’s delegations to Intergovernmental SciencePolicy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) plenaries, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

He currently serves as the Co-Chair of the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel of the Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and on the Advisory Board of Witwatersrand University’s Global Change Institute. He brings extensive experience in managing and advising large national and international institutions across the public, private, and academic sectors.

Dr Dziba also is a member of various boards, including the Board of Trustees of the Endangered Wildlife Trust and of the National Parks Trust, and the Boards of WWF Netherlands and Leadership for Conservation in Africa. He holds a PhD in Rangeland Science from Utah State University (USU) and an Executive Development Programme Certificate from Wits University Business School.

Sources: Bizcommunity | Wildlife Conservation Society

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