Caitlin’s multifaceted job as Managing Director of FynbosLIFE puts many of the skills acquired from her non-linear career path to work. A childhood interest in veterinary science was steered towards human medicine, but ultimately the pull of natural science led her to botany, pollination ecology, horticulture, and wildlife habitat restoration. She has worked at SANBI, WESSA and Iziko Museums, and dabbled in insights analysis, french translation, art, writing, design, marketing and communications, while studying a PhD in Botany (plant-animal interactions) part-time.
It was Caitlin’s mother, Jane – long-time environmental educator and volunteer garden guide at Kirstenbosch – who inspired her to follow a fulfilling career in fynbos conservation. Although she is not the veterinary or reconstructive surgeon once intended, Caitlin has had extraordinarily intriguing experiences dissecting cadavers; delivering babies; assisting in surgery on humans and animals; treating township pets; documenting threatened plants off the beaten track all over the Cape Floristic Region; teaching schoolchildren from Harmony Flats to Pondoland about plant monitoring, and, more recently, researching pollination and floral colour divergence in the snotrosie.
Having carried out extensive botanical fieldwork, she uncovered an Endangered plant species new to science, which contributed towards the declaration of the Moutonshoek Protected Environment. She considers this discovery her proudest moment, given that it helped protect one of the most spectacular natural areas on Earth from mining.
Now, through FynbosLIFE, she devotes her life to the rehabilitation of landscapes altered by urbanisation, and does so with the utmost care and passion for her work. Click here to listen to Caitlin chat to Phemelo Motene on SAfm about biodiversity restoration and how she believes that locally indigenous plants can heal the earth.