Meet WCN Scholar Sabita Malla

Sabita grew up in a remote, rural region of western Nepal, in the Baglung district. Even as a child, she was always curious about the many plants and animals she saw in the farms and forests that surrounded her village. This curiosity carried well into her university years, where for her master’s dissertation, she studied how hunting impacted tigers in Bardia National Park in Nepal. While working on her dissertation, every day Sabita would hear gunshots from poachers encroaching on the park to kill wildlife, particularly tigers. That was when the wildlife conservation crisis became real to her, and it was what ultimately pushed her to dedicate her entire life to wildlife conservation and to saving these iconic species.

Sabita plans on earning her PhD in Biodiversity Management from the University of Kent, where she will study how tracking and translocating rhinos affect not only the rhinos themselves, but also the people who live in the areas surrounding the new location. The subject builds on her already existing body of work—collaring and tracking rhinos in Nepal—that she undertook as a biologist with WWF, Nepal. During that time, she worked closely with local communities to help monitor the rhinos, and in turn the communities saw a tourism boost in the region, thereby realizing the benefits rhinos could bring to their communities. This fostered a genuine enthusiasm among the people for the species. Once her PhD has concluded, Sabita plans to work on restoring fragmented forest habitat corridors, and reducing human-wildlife conflict by developing early warning systems. She would also like to address policy gaps within Nepal’s government structure. Given Sabita’s hard work thus far, she has a bright future ahead of her.