Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka

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Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka
Alma materRoyal Veterinary College
(Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine)
North Carolina State University
(Master of Veterinary Science)
Duke University
(Certificate in Non-Profit Management)
Undisclosed University
(MBA in Global Business and Sustainability)
Known forStudy of mountain gorillas, conservation
AwardsWhitley Awards (UK) (2009)
EarthCare Award (US) (2018)
UNEP Champions of the Earth (2021)
Edinburgh Medal (UK) (2022)

Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka (born 8 January 1970) is a Ugandan veterinarian and founder of Conservation Through Public Health, an organisation dedicated to the coexistence of endangered mountain gorillas, other wildlife, humans, and livestock in Africa.[1]

Kalema-Zikusoka was Uganda's first wildlife veterinary officer and was the star of the BBC documentary, Gladys the African Vet.[2] In 2009 she won the Whitley Gold Award for her conservation work.[3] In December 2021 she was proclaimed a United Nations Environment Programme's Champion of the Earth for Science and Innovation for her work with the One Health initiative.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Interested in animals since the age of 12 while growing up in Kampala, Kalema-Zikusoka started a wildlife club at her school and organised trips to Queen Elizabeth National Park.[5] Her professional studies began when she won a scholarship to study at the University of London Royal Veterinary College, graduating with a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine . Later, 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.[5][6]

Personal life[edit]

Kalema-Zikusoka is married to Lawrence Zikusoka, a technology entrepreneur and one of the co-founders of Conservation Through Public Health. They have two children.[5]

Professional accomplishments[edit]

In 1996, when Kalema-Zikusoka was 25, she was appointed the veterinary officer for the Ugandan Wildlife Service, which later merged with Uganda's national parks to become the Uganda Wildlife Authority. She was the first person to hold that position. At the time, Bwindi gorillas numbered about 300 whereas in 2018 a count of approximately 460 was sufficient to downgrade the mountain gorilla to endangered from critically endangered status.[7] She pioneered the first wildlife translocation to restock Uganda's national parks following years of poaching during Uganda's civil wars.[8]

As part of her veterinary research, she identified parasite transmission from humans to mountain gorillas as a significant risk factor for gorillas.[9]

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 to improve both human and ecological health in Africa.[5] 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 that use Information/Communication Technology both to help local development and to educate people about the environment. Kalema-Zikusoka is the CEO of the organisation.[5]

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.[8]

Books, Honors, Awards, and other Recognitions[edit]

Walking with Gorillas: The Journey of an African Wildlife Vet The book's foreword is by Dr Jane Goodall.[7]

Kalema-Zikusoka has received a number of honours, awards, and other public recognitions of her environmental and humanitarian work. In 2009, she won the Whitley Gold Award, the top prize awarded in what has been considered the "Green Oscars".[3] In 2008, the San Diego Zoo gave her its Conservation-in-Action Award.[5] In 2006, Kalema-Zikusoka was elected to an Ashoka Fellowship.[10] In 2007, Seed Magazine named her one of their eight Revolutionary Minds in Science.[10]

Kalema-Zikusoka was profiled in the BBC documentary, Gladys the African Vet. She has also been featured in documentaries in National Geographic, Animal Planet, MNet and Uganda Television. She was chosen among nine international environmental leaders to write a letter to the next US president in Sierra Club Magazine, November/December 2008 issue.[10]

In 2018, Dr. Kalema-Zikusoka was awarded the EarthCare Award by the United States-based Sierra Club, in recognition of her "unique contribution to international environmental protection and conservation", as related to her work in environmental protection and co-existence between communities and mountain gorillas in Uganda. She received the award on 29 September 2018, at a ceremony that was held in Denver, Colorado, in the United States.[11]

In December 2021 she was proclaimed the United Nations Environment Programme's Champion of the Earth for Science and Innovation.[12][13]

In April 2022, Dr. Kalema-Zikusoka was awarded the Edinburgh Medal 2022 for her work improving the quality of life of people and wildlife to enable them to coexist in and around protected areas in Africa. She is a pioneer in community-led 'One Health' approaches to conservation exploring and supporting the delicate interplay between humans and wildlife.

In November 2023, Kalema-Zikusoka was named to the BBC's 100 Women list.[14]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Kalema G. 1994. Letter entitled "Veterinarians and Zoological Medicine" to the Veterinary Record. The Veterinary Record, 135 (1).
  • Nizeyi J. B., Mwebe R, Nanteza A, Cranfield M.R, Kalema G.R.N.N., Graczyk T. 1999. Cryptosporidium sp. and Giardia sp. Infections in mountain gorillas (Gorilla gorilla beringei) of the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. Journal Parasitology 85 (7). American Society of Parasitologists.
  • Nizeye J. B., Innocent R. B., Erume J, Kalema G. R. N. N., Cranfield M. R. and Graczyk T. K. 2001. Campylobacteriosis, Salmonellosis, and Shigellosis in free-ranging human-habituated mountain gorillas in Uganda. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 37(2): 239–244.
  • Graczyk T. K., DaSilva A. J., Cranfield M. R., Nizeye J. B., Kalema G. R and Pieniazek N. J. 2001. Cryptosporidium parvum genotype 2 infections in free-ranging mountain gorillas (Gorilla gorilla beringei) of the Bwindi Impenetrable National park, Uganda. Parasitology Research 87(5):368-70.
  • Kalema-Zikusoka G, Kock R. A., Macfie E. J. 2002. Scabies in free-ranging mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. Veterinary Record 150(1):12-5.
  • Kalema-Zikusoka G and Lowenstine L. 2001. Rectal prolapse in a free-ranging mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei): clinical presentation and surgical management. Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 32(4):509–513.
  • Kalema-Zikusoka G, Horne W. A., Levine J. and Loomis M. R. 2003. Comparison of the cardiopulmonary effects of medetomidine-butorphanol-ketamine and medetomidine-butorphanol- midazolam in patas monkeys (Erthyrocebus patas). Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 34(1):47–52.
  • Kalema-Zikusoka G, Rothman JM, Fox MT. 2005. Intestinal parasites and bacteria of mountain gorillas ( Gorilla beringei beringei) in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. Primates 46:59–63.
  • Osofsky, Steven A., Richard A. Kock, Michael D. Kock, Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, Richard Grahn, Tim Leyland, William. B. Karesh. 2005. Building support for Protected Ares using a One Health perspective In: Friends for Life, New partners in support of protected areas. Edited by Jeff McNeily. Published by IUCN, Species Survival Commission.
  • Kalema-Zikusoka G, Bengis R, G., A. L. Michel and M. H. Woodford. 2005. A preliminary investigation of tuberculosis and other diseases in African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda. Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research, 72:145–151.
  • Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, and Lynne Gaffikin. 2008. Sharing the Forest, Protecting Gorillas and Helping Families in Uganda. Focus, published by the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for International Scholars and USAID, Issue 17 October 2008.
  • Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka. 2009. Lair of a Silverback. Wild Places. National Geographic Traveler, Issue October 2009.
  • Fabien H.Leendertz and Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka. 2021. Vaccinate in biodiversity hotspots to protect people and wildlife from each other. Nature 591:369.


  1. ^ Yogerst, Joe (31 July 2014). "How Uganda emerged from chaos to become a tourist destination once more". Cable News Network (CNN). Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  2. ^ The Rolex Awards (2010). "About Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka: Location: Uganda, 2010 Jury Member". The Rolex Awards for Enterprise. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  3. ^ a b O'Connell, Sanjida (13 May 2009). "TV vet's scheme to protect gorillas in Uganda wins top conservation award". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  4. ^ Vyawahare, Malavika (13 December 2021). "Uganda's 'Dr. Gladys' honored by U.N. for work linking conservation and health". Mongabay Environmental News. Retrieved 7 March 2022.
  5. ^ a b c d e f CTPH (2017). "Meet The Team: Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zukusoka, Founder and CEO". Entebbe: Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH). Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  6. ^ AHEAD (2003). "IUCN 2003 World Parks Congress AHEAD Launch Forum: Biographies of Presenters: Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, BVM, MVSc, Cert.NPM, CEO, Conservation Through Public Health". Ithaca, New York State: Animal & Human Health for the Environment And Development (AHEAD). Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  7. ^ a b Britten, Fleur (28 April 2023). "A vet's life, fighting for the Bwindi mountain gorilla". The Guardian Weekly. p. 24.
  8. ^ a b Mangat, Rupi (25 August 2018). "Saving the gorilla with quality coffee". The EastAfrican. Nairobi. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  9. ^ Kalema-Zikusoka, Gladys; Rothman, Jessica M.; Fox, Mark T. (January 2005). "Intestinal parasites and bacteria of mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda". Primates; Journal of Primatology. 46 (1): 59–63. doi:10.1007/s10329-004-0103-y. ISSN 0032-8332. PMID 15338419. S2CID 33668424.
  10. ^ a b c (2013). "About Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka". St. Louis, Missouri: Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  11. ^ Musinguzi, Bamuturaki (20 October 2018). "Ugandan wildlife vet gets coveted Sierra Club award". The EastAfrican. Nairobi. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  12. ^ Environment, U. N. (3 December 2021). "Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka". Champions of the Earth. Retrieved 4 January 2022.
  13. ^ "Champions of the Earth: The Ugandan vet protecting people and wildlife". UN News. 21 December 2021. Retrieved 4 January 2022.
  14. ^ "BBC 100 Women 2023: Who is on the list this year?". BBC News. 23 November 2023. Retrieved 24 November 2023.

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