Khungeka Lindani is originally from Cala, a small town in the Eastern Cape. After matriculating from Nyanga High School in the neighbouring town of Engcobo, she went on to further her studies and subsequently moved to Cape Town. In 2010 she obtained her National Diploma in Nature Conservation from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and then went on to work for the City of Cape Town, WESSA’s Eco-Schools programme and NCC Environmental Services.
Khungeka joined CapeNature (CN) in 2013 through the Groen Sebenza Programme as a Biodiversity Stewardship Coordinator Intern. In 2014, she secured a permanent position as Conservation Officer (Off Reserve). Five years later, she was afforded the opportunity to join the GEF-5 PA Project as the Dassenberg Coastal Catchment Partnership (DCCP) Coordinator.
Khungeka Lindani conducting veld assessment in the landscape. (Image: Ricardo Adonis)
This is her first position in management.“Working as the DCCP Coordinator has been the highlight of my career and a great learning curve. I joined the project at the end of 2019 -which was four years after its inception. This put me under a lot of pressure as I had to hit the ground running,” said Khungeka.
Interestingly, Khungeka landed in the biodiversity sector by mistake. In fact, she had no knowledge of it when she first moved to Cape Town. When she had not been accepted for the biotechnology course she had initially applied for, she chose the diploma course in Nature Conservation as a second option. Because her knowledge was limited, she tried to gain a better understanding of her studies by volunteering at Macassar Nature Reserve in Cape Town during school holidays, where she ultimately fell in love with the industry.
As for what made her decide to work for CapeNature? “CapeNature was one of the companies I always wanted to work with. I was inspired by the passion displayed by CapeNature employees that I engaged with,” she explained. When Khungeka saw posts being advertised for the Groen Sebenza Internships in 2013, she grabbed this as an opportunity to join CapeNature, applied and was accepted.
CapeNature landscape in bloom after fire. (Image supplied)
Her current role as Conservation Officer (Off Reserve), seconded as the GEF-5 DCCP Coordinator entails working closely with various stakeholders, coordinating and facilitating meetings, implementing biodiversity stewardship programmes, supporting conservation initiatives as well as the project management of the GEF-5 Project.
Having been seconded to the GEF-5 PA project has contributed hugely to Khungeka’s career. Prior to the secondment, she was appointed at middle management. The project has afforded her the opportunity to work at a higher level with added responsibilities. The skills and experience she’s gained throughout this project will be beneficial for her career trajectory.
For Khungeka, there are no limitations for women in this field of work. When she started off, it was male dominated but currently women are taking up the space. Her dream is to see more women taking on high level positions in the sector. Khungeka plans to further her studies in 2021 through UNISA, in order to be ready for any opportunities which may lie ahead.
Khungeka enjoying herself in nature, hoping that more women will find their space in the conservation sector. (Image: Dimisane Jula)