An introduction to NVT’s new WWF-SA Graduate Leaders Interns: Simphiwe Gininda & Anathi Mbona

Joy de Vos
21 April 2017

NVT is a proud partner of the WWF-SA Graduate Leadership Program, and has been a participating organisation right from the program’s inception. Past interns include Cindy-Lee Cloete, Babalwa Mqokeli and Brittany Arendse – all of whom have gone on to great heights. In this blog, we introduce you to our recent new arrivals!

One of NVT’s new WWF-SA Graduate Leaders Interns is Simphiwe Gininda. She is the fourth in a pack of 6 children and under the guidance of their parents they grew up in Mooiplaas, a quiet neighbourhood within the Mpumalanga Province.

Although Simphiwe already liked science and teaching as a child, having a career in the environmental sector wasn’t self-evident at all. Everyone expected her to work in the healthcare sector, just like her elder siblings. During her BSc. in Biological Sciences, Simphiwe’s love for science grew even more, especially after being exposed to the environmental sector. She did her Honours in Science and developed a deep-rooted passion for nature. When working alongside the Eastern Cape Parks board during this degree, she developed an interest in anthropogenic impacts on the environment. With the current water crisis in South Africa, Simphiwe chose to run an ecological assessment of a freshwater ecosystem for her MSc. During this assessment, she looked at the ecological effects of pollution on benthic communities of aquatic invertebrates and diatoms. She chose this project because of the water pollution in one of the local rivers in Grahamstown. While doing the scientific research, she realized that creating awareness with regards to human interactions with nature was necessary! This was when she decided to add an education aspect to her career by becoming an educator, focusing on Natural Sciences and Life Sciences.

But how did Simphiwe end up as a WWF-SA Graduate Leaders Intern at NVT? Well after her MSc., Simphiwe was enticed by what this internship offered: the prospect of gaining vital work experience in the environmental sector. Her end goal for this internship is to be a much more rounded individual who has acquired multiple relevant skills, work experience and be more marketable to more recruiters.

She ended up as education extension officer after being captured by the conservation education aspects of NVT. During the coming 12 months, Simphiwe wants to hone her professional communication skills by interacting with the various stakeholders and authorities NVT are partnered with, organize events as well as develop a project that will run sustainably even after her internship period is over. Also, as part of her personal development she wishes to learn a bit of Afrikaans, to ride a bike and how to swim.

Simphiwe’s was at first a bit overwhelmed by the community living aspects; having to share a house with six of her co-workers. But this was soon overshadowed by the work atmosphere and the appreciation NVT receives from the residents and visitors to Nature’s Valley as well as from the local communities. She appreciates the efforts her co-workers go to for the common good of a small organization like NVT. A passionate team like this is what makes NVT so successful!

Working as an environmental educator after her internship would be a blessing for Simphiwe. However, if this opportunity does not present itself, she wants to complete a PhD in environmental education.

WhatsApp Image 2017 04 21 at 1.20.44 PM

Meet our sassy new interns: Simphiwe Ganinda education intern (left) and Anathi Mbona (right), research intern.


Anathi Mbona is our second WWF-SA intern. She is originally from the Eastern cape, where she grew up with her two sisters in a small town called Cala.

Anathi has always been passionate about the natural world and seeing several irreversible negative consequences of human activities has made her realize the importance of taking good care of our environment - this was the spark that ignited a career in the environmental sector.

After finishing her BSc. in Biological Sciences, she did her Honours degree in Zoology at Walter Sisulu University. She continued her studies, with an MSc. in Aquaculture at the University of Cape Town, focussing on fish nutrition, water treatment as well as fish and algal production.

Anathi ended up at NVT because it was such a good fit for her; her education background and skills aligned well with the needs of the internship position. During her time here with NVT, she will be assisting in a number of ongoing conservation and ecological research projects. One of the projects she will be overseeing is the mosquitofish monitoring project, conducted at various sites along the lower reaches of the Groot River system. Globally, these fish are one of the worst alien invasive species, occurring in many riverine systems in the world.  Anathi is keen on gaining valuable experience while focusing on research and environmental conservation work this upcoming year!

When arriving here in Nature’s Valley, Anathi was inspired by the work NVT does with the surrounding community to conserve and manage their natural resources. Seeing some of NVT’s environmental education projects made her even more passionate about helping and it gives her great joy knowing that she can make a difference in people’s lives through her work.

Anathi’s goals while she is at NVT is to grow as a researcher and upskill herself. After the coming 12 months, she wishes to continue her studies and complete a PhD. in environmental management – focussing on waste water treatment.

Please join us in welcoming these two dynamic young ladies to the NVT family! Pop in and meet them when you are next in the valley.