Winner of the Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa 2016
Cathy started her career over 17 years ago at the age of 22 with South African National Parks as a conservation student, assisting with the capture of black rhino. This became a turning point in her life as she developed a deep, lifelong passion for the species (Cathy calls it a “slight obsession”), which has shaped her career in conservation.
Coming from humble roots and starting a career at the bottom of the ladder, Cathy’s perseverance and focus built a career which graphically illustrates that being disadvantaged is not a barrier to achieving great heights, not only in conservation but also in life itself. On hearing about her nomination, Cathy said: “It has been incredibly humbling and I am truly honored to have been nominated for this award.”
Cathy’s success has been totally through her own efforts and as a woman she has faced greater challenges than most. Crucially, Cathy has helped to bring people working in conservation together, principally in a number of national and international rhino translocations. Her response to the nomination shows her overarching modesty: “This nomination is as much for the people who have inspired me, taught me what I know and continue to motivate me daily.”
I have always been driven by my work and family has had to take a back seat for a number of years.
Cathy’s work has led directly to the establishment of new black rhino populations and in South Africa, the country with the highest population of rhino – yet facing the highest rate of poaching – Cathy offers the potential to provide vital protection for this species far into the future. Behind her success is her approach to life: “the harder the battle the sweeter the victory”.
Cathy Dreyer is a clear example of the commitment and future of young African leadership in Conservation in Africa: “I am driven by the need to feel that I am making a difference and contributing meaningfully to conservation.