Monika Shikongo - In the line of duty
By Shasimana Uugulu - October 2010
Growing up surrounded by dogs and cattle in the remote village of Onendongo in northern Namibia where only African folktale brought her closer to knowing wildlife, Monika Shikongo soon took up a career path in nature conservation to ensure that what remains of wildlife is preserved for future generations.
Shikongo, 25, is probably the youngest Warden of a national park in the history of nature conservation in Namibia.
She is responsible for managing one of Namibia’s most rugged, challenging and tourist prone wildlife conservation areas, the eastern section of Bwabwata National Park in Caprivi Region where she heads a team of 15 officials and rangers.
“I grew up in an area where wildlife never existed, where children would only sit next to the fire and hear stories of how wildlife was once the main source of meat as well as how hunting trips were an integral part of African communities,” says Shikongo.
She is currently the only woman running and managing a national park in Namibia, something traditionally considered a man’s job.
Managing Bwabwata National Park requires commitment and courage as well as good communication skills because this park has been the heart of human-wildlife-conflict in Namibia.
“Human-wildlife-conflict is one of the main challenges facing the management especially during the planting season. However, recently with input from community members we have been able to work together in trying to find solutions to this challenge.”
Bwabwata is a very unique park in Namibia. Apart from the fact that it is home to around 5000 inhabitants, it is located at the heart of the emerging Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area with massive trans-boundary animal movements.
Shikongo speaks highly on the need to curb human wildlife conflicts most importantly with compensation packages provided by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to individuals whose fields and crops are destroyed by wildlife.
Being a woman has not deterred her from pursuing a career path in the mostly male dominated nature conservation industry in Namibia.
“I am a stern believer in the equal opportunities for both men and women and do not see anything wrong with me having to work in the jungle full of wild beasts. I think as women we should not underestimate our own capabilities, we have the potential to contribute significantly to the deve...
Refer to the Prime Focus Magazine for remainder of article