Wildlife empowered: A conservation journey

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we spoke with one of Born Free’s inspiring female conservationists: Faith Ndunge.

A lioness walks in grass in golden light

Born Free’s Pride of Meru programme is devoted to the protection of lions in our heartland of Meru Conservation Area in Kenya, working with local communities to promote coexistence. Our new Programme Officer Faith Ndunge explains how she was motivated to devote her life to conservation. 

A headshot of Faith Ndunge

Programme Officer Faith Ndunge

In the wild heart of Africa – where the untamed spirit of nature paints a vibrant picture of conservation – I found my passion as a conservationist with my roots deeply intertwined with nature. Raised amidst the beauty and wonders of the wildlife of Tsavo East National Park, Kitui South and Mwingi National Reserves, I developed the desire to work for nature and human beings and to safeguard our planet’s biodiversity.

With a background in Environmental Education, I completed a Masters in Environmental Pollution before diving into the dynamic field of conservation. I was and am to this day determined to contribute to the protection of our planet’s precious ecosystems and understand how humans utilize and impact the environment.

This desire to work in conservation landed me a Project Manager role at Ontulili Primates Protection where I was privileged to be part of efforts dedicated to supporting women in conservation. In the heart of the Ontulili forest in Kenya exist the Women Primate Guardians, a group of dedicated heroines. Every morning, the air was alive with the sounds of the forest awakening, and so were these women. Equipped with binoculars, cameras in hand and notebooks ready, we would keenly monitor primate behaviour, documenting every interaction, every call, and every intricate detail.

Our efforts not only contributed to our understanding of primate dynamics but also challenged stereotypes and paved the way for more women to join the conservation frontlines. Besides our daily monitoring we engaged in community outreach, inspiring local women to join the cause and become stewards of the environment.

Joining Born Free was a natural progression to my career. The organisation’s commitment to wildlife conservation and research aligns with my personal and professional career aspirations. As I settle into my role, I am thrilled about the prospect of working on impactful projects and contributing to the organisation’s noble mission.

At Born Free, I am fortunate to work alongside exceptional women who contribute significantly to our conservation endeavours. Their dedication, expertise, and passion serve as a source of inspiration for me and others in the team. Colleagues like Linda Kimotho and Keziah Nuttall who are both experts in Geographical Information System and Statistical Analysis, fuel my motivation to push boundaries and make a meaningful impact. The collective passion for wildlife and conservation creates an inspiring work environment, and I am eager to continue being part of initiatives that foster positive change.

Globally, I’m captivated by the unwavering passion of Dr Musonda Mumba, Secretary General of the Convention on Wetlands. She is a force to be reckoned with in the battle for wetlands and water sources and I am hopeful one day of stepping into her shoes. My journey as a female conservationist is a continuous exploration of the delicate balance between humanity and nature, guided by a commitment to preserving the beauty and diversity of our planet.