A fond farewell

Harriet Davies-Mostert, EWT’s Head of Conservation

After 23 stimulating and fulfilling years at the Endangered Wildlife Trust, I have made the difficult but exciting decision to spread my wings and leave the EWT to join another conservation NGO, Conserve Global. This organisation works to secure and protect vulnerable conservation landscapes across Africa while bringing benefits to the wildlife and communities whose well-being depends on the integrity of these landscapes. It focuses outside of the existing national park network on landscapes that are home to significant biodiversity and play a significant role in buffering national parks and increasing connectivity between wildlife areas. As Director of Impact, and a member of the senior leadership team, I will concentrate on institutional fundraising, monitoring and evaluation and impact reporting, and driving science-led adaptive project management across our entire portfolio of projects.

The EWT has been my home for most of my professional life: I have learned so much and had so many rich and unique experiences. It has been wonderful to have worked in an organisation that is both strategic and yet quick to respond, is science-led and credible and yet constantly embraces new ideas, and where co-workers quickly become friends. Thank you so much to the many colleagues who have taught me new ways of thinking, inspired me, shown me the true meaning of passion and commitment, and made me laugh (and sometimes cry!). A very special thanks to the EWT’s indomitable CEO, Yolan Friedmann, for her leadership, mentorship, energy, and inspiration. We have travelled a long and rewarding journey together, which has readied me for the challenging steps ahead. Thank you!

 Emily Taylor, EWT Communications and Marketing Manager

I met Harriet in 2012 when I started volunteering at the Endangered Wildlife Trust. She was the Head of Conservation Science, larger than life, and a renowned force of change and good in the conservation sector. I wanted nothing more than to work for the EWT, but I had no experience and only a lowly Nature Conservation Diploma behind my name. But I could write, which was one of the requirements when they advertised an intern position. I threw caution to the wind, applied, and somehow became her Conservation Science Intern. We were instant friends – aided by the proximity of our houses and the convenience of lift-sharing. I would look forward to the drives into the office and back each day – an opportunity to pick her brain, gossip, brainstorm, to laugh. She was looking to move closer to work, and I remember looking at houses with her and seeing her face when we saw the one that she and her family moved into not long after and love almost a decade later. I tagged along to meetings, conferences, doctors appointments, and the fireman’s pub or 33 High Street in Modderfontein for drinks after work. I was considering doing a BTech in Nature Conservation, and Harriet was unimpressed and convinced that I should pursue an MSc at WITS, despite not having a science degree. I was sceptical that I would manage it, particularly the really sciency stuff like statistical modelling. But Harriet believed in me. Despite me being her intern, she always valued my opinion and treated me as an equal. And she pushed my boundaries, telling me with conviction that I could achieve things I considered out of my reach. Slowly, I began to believe in myself a little more each day. Nine years later, I am no longer her intern, but she will always be my mentor and very dear friend. Thank you for believing in me, Harriet, and guiding me towards a future I hadn’t dared to dream of. Mine is but one story of how you have touched people’s lives in remarkable ways, and I do not doubt that there will be many more of these to come. Wherever you go, Harriet, we walk with you, and you will always be one of the voices in my head, telling me that I am so much more capable than I think I am and that you believe in me. What a legacy to leave.

Kishaylin Chetty, Eskom

As a scholar having just left high school, I volunteered over the December holidays to monitor, collect fecal samples, look after and learn to track wild dogs in Northern KZN. It was the first time I heard of Harriet. Fast forward 12 years later and I was to meet Dr Harriet in the flesh for business through Eskom. I was in absolute awe, but I played it cool. Here was someone I had heard about, read about and was now in the same room with, able to ask any question. Nerves flowing through the veins, a casual ‘high’ is all I could mutter. The nerves settled when I was appointed in Harriet’s Amazing Race team at my very first EWT Conservation week function I attended. What an event and what an introduction to Harriet. Harriet is one of the world’s great scientific conservation minds – she sees and thinks of things others don’t and has a structured level of thinking second to none. I’ve also been impressed with how Harriet has this intense work side and then this amazing fun side, all whilst being a super mom and wife. Harriet you are an inspiration to many up and coming scientists like myself and I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to have worked with you and learnt from you – even if only through the Eskom EWT Partnership. You have changed my very own thinking on how to be a better scientist, but also on how to enjoy personal life and work. You have been an institution at EWT. You will be sorely missed and I wish you everything of the best in the new adventure. Hoping our paths will cross again.

Lots of love, Kishaylin Chetty