Gladys Kalema is a little woman with a big ambition. At just twenty five she has just been made the head of Ugandan Wildlife Service. It’s the first time this position has been filled in 36 years – and it’s never been filled by a woman. Armed with only four years veterinary experience, Gladys has been told by the Uganda Government to sort out their wildlife and their ten National Parks. We follow her efforts carrying out those ‘orders’ and the daunting challenges she faces. Devastated by years of civil war, Uganda’s wildlife has either been shot or eaten. Now Gladys has to restore their numbers which means introducing new animals ‘imported’ from Kenya, setting up breeding programmes and protecting rare species against poachers. Her biggest challenge is looking after Uganda’s 280 Mountain Gorillas – making her the sole protector of half the Mountain Gorilla population in the world.
“The biggest problem I face” says Gladys, “is building up the number of animals that have been killed off, and then once I’ve done that, I have to make sure they’re not eaten, shot or poached”. One of the quickest ways Gladys has found of building up the wildlife population is ‘importing’ or translocating animals from neighbouring Kenya. “Kenya has too many giraffes – we only had six, so I called them up and asked if they wanted to give me some”. In true Gladys style, this simple suggestion has been beneficial to both countries – and most importantly to the giraffes themselves.
Flying to Kenya, Gladys helps with all stages of the programme and escorts the animals back to their new home. It’s a well planned operation – to prevent the giraffes being decapitated Gladys has all the overhead cables along the roads taken down for a day. “We don’t want giraffes with broken necks”. Gladys knew she’d need help with such an audacious plan. Few could resist the call for help from this determined young woman. Overnight Gladys got the backup and advice she needed. But no matter who’s there to help, Gladys herself is always on the front line – she’s the boss. Gladys has ordered a ranger to follow the giraffes all the time to protect them from poachers.
Gladys’ days and nights are spent training new rangers and vets to help her put Uganda’s wildlife back on it’s feet. What makes her tick? How does she cope with the vagaries of the Ugandan Government? Will she succeed in her dream to restock Uganda’s parks and make them great again. We follow her struggle to succeed.
“Rolf Harris doesn’t know he is born. Same goes for those Vets in Practice. They have it easy compared with young wildlife vet Gladys Kalema over in Uganda. The girl’s a treat.” The Mirror
“Dr. Gladys Kalema has a very tough job Tonight’s final film of this inspirational series follows Gladys, Uganda’s new chief vet who wonders if she’s taken on more than she bargained for.” TV Times
“Showing a maturity beyond her years, Dr. Gladys Kalema sets a programme to increase the flagging population of giraffes by importing them from Kenya.” Evening Standard
“If you enjoyed watching the struggles of Vet School and Vets in Practice you’ll love following Gladys up her equally steep learning curve.” Daily Mail
Wildcreen 1998 – Finalist in Best People/Animal Film Category
Uganda Wildlife Authority
- Narrator:Patrick Robinson
- Photography:John Davey
- Music:David Poore
- Editor:Carl Thomson
- Producer/Director:Jane-Marie Franklyn