Zoë Cawthorn

I have always had a love of and respect for wildlife and the natural world, and during my 15-year career in engineering and project management within the construction industry, I became increasingly aware of the importance of conservation on a global scale. In 2016 I joined a black rhino conservation project in Zimbabwe as a volunteer and fell in love with the world of conservation. Despite the challenges and set-backs all conservationists face, seeing positive impact on any scale is hugely rewarding.

Since 2016 I have been conducting conservation research and community support projects in Zimbabwe and I re-joined the volunteer programme in 2017. I also completed an MSc in Wildlife Conservation and have continued conservation research, with a focus on the co-existence between wildlife and people.

I set up this blog-site to share success stories from around the world, to offer a little light relief from the 'doom and gloom' we read about every day, and to highlight the wonderful work provided by some inspirational organisations and individuals. 

Research Projects

Close to nature: Investigating the benefits of natural forest and macadamia in close proximity in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe

My MSc thesis studied the benefits of natural forest as a provider of ecosystem services to macadamia orchards in Zimbabwe, using mixed effects models. The results of the study highlighted the importance of native pollinators in macadamia plantations and their reliance on their natural forest habitat in the study area. 

Growing Hope: Can organic fertiliser end soil degradation in Malawi?

This Global Research Challenges funded project aims to test a novel organic fertiliser made from cattle waste. Crop trials are underway in Malawi to compare the efficacy of the fertiliser when compared to the environmentally damaging synthetic alternatives that are widely used in Malawi. We believe that our organic fertiliser will provide rural farmers with greater food security and begin to regenerate their degrading soils, offering sustainability in the face of climate change.

Community Support Projects

Zimbabwe: Goitre surgery for rural woman

Whilst volunteering in Zimbabwe, in a village where we were handing out clothes and shoes for the village children,  I came across Esnuth, a lovely woman with a huge thyroid goitre. The mother of 8 children, and wife to a blind and disabled man, she was struggling to eat and could only sleep sitting upright. I raised the funds for her to have the simple operation to remove the goitre and for her ongoing medication. I am very happy to say that Esnuth made a full recovery and has joined the local Mothers Working Group, which provides school uniforms and many other items for the community.

Surviving the fire: Medical help and rebuilding after a fire in rural Zimbabwe

In early 2019 I heard news of a poor rural family suffering terribly after a fire broke out in their humble homestead kitchen. The father of the family, who was already in ill health, was badly burned when trying to rescue the family cooking pot from the fire. The reed roof of the kitchen was completely burned away and the little food they had stored was gone. I raised and managed funds for the supply of skin medication to treat the father's burns, to re-thatch the kitchen roof and to help boost the family's small farm, which, run by the oldest boy (Dominic, 18 years), supplied their food and only income. I am glad to report that the father's wounds from the fire are improving, and the kitchen now has a new roof. Dominic is managing to keep the farm running and has ambitious plans for its future development.

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