Women in Nature Conservation: Dimakatso Nonyane
Progressing from Environmental Monitor to Project Manager
Dimakatso Nonyane, 33 years hails from Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga. She is the project manager for the Resilient Water Project at the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Reserve (K2C). K2C is one of the implementing partners of the GEF-5 PA Project in the area and Dimakatso’s work takes place in the buffer zone of the Kruger Park protected area.
Dimakatso Nonyane busy in her K2C office. (Image supplied)
Her working career started in 2013 as an Environmental Monitor (EM) in the beautiful mountains of the Mariepskop forest. She then progressed to EM supervisor, learning more about communications and project management and meeting different people. In search of a more challenging post, Dimakatso started to assist with admin for the Wildlands Restoration Team. When a vacant post for a field assistant opened in 2016, she applied successfully.
She then moved on to manage the K2C restoration team under a USAID subgrant in 2018. In May 2020, Dima started as the Project Manager for the Resilient Water (RW) project, working with the restoration custodian team and the Environmental Monitors, a programme funded by the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF). She facilitates trainings and also manages the WASH component of the project.
Dimakatso looking on as the restoration custodian team participates in a snake handling training. (Image supplied)
It was Dimakatso’s passion for nature that sparked her interest in working in the environment sector. She has always drawn inspiration from the tranquillity that the environment offers. “Listening to the sound of water flowing has some healing powers. I was always a loner who enjoyed the outdoors and just listening to the birds singing would brighten my day,” she said.
When Dimakatso attended Grade 11, the Timbavati Foundation came to her schools. They took the learners to bush school where they learned about the environment, wildlife and conservation. The more they explained, the more she liked everything about it. This experience put her on the path of nature conservation.
Choosing conservation as a career didn’t come without obstacles. People warned her that it would be difficult to find a job or progress. But against all odds, in 2004 she pursued her Diploma in Nature Conservation at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT). At times she doubted her choice but through endurance and countless job applications, she managed to break into the sector.
Dimakatso Nonyane at work with her team. (Image: K2C)
Dimakatso’s career is proof that the conservation field is changing from what used to be a male dominated field to a more gender-neutral environment. In fact, it’s a career path more women should consider. Dima, as she is known by her team, explained: “Women are true nurtures, everything they touch grows and flourish. So, I believe that this is a field made for them because they would ensure sustainability because of their nature.”
Her female role model is Marie-Tinka Uys, K2C’s Chief Operating Officer and a conservation icon whose vision and passion towards the environment shines through everything she does.
Dima would like to see K2C reach higher grounds and become more financially independent. And she would like to see her community with a changed view of the environment. “People should start looking at the earth differently and understand that if we take care of it, it will definitely take care of us,” she said.
While Dima’s career in conservation is sure to soar further, it also provides a path for others to follow. “I would like to encourage girls and women to fight for their place in every aspect of their lives, be it education or that job they are eyeing. Ladies go for it!” she said.
Dimakatso Nonyane – a role model for young women to find their place in the conservation sector. (Image: supplied)