Conservation Research

Our conservation research projects

These projects are collaborations between the College and national and international partners, undertaken to further study, better understand and find solutions for current conservation challenges.

Applied Learning Unit – Biennial Report 2018 -2019

March 2020

The Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC) strives to provide practical hands-on learning coupled with theory and so, towards the end of 2017, the Applied learning Unit (ALU) – formerly the Research and Innovation Development Unit – accepted the mandate to implement the SAWC’s Applied Learning Strategy. The Team has worked with national and international institutions and post graduate students to conduct a wide range of research projects.

Effects of container colour on Oviposition of Culex Pipiens complex mosquitoes (Diptera: culicidae) and Indicators of water quality.

P. Hamming, M Schrama, A. Gardiner, C. Graf, D. Woodford. 2020

Mosquitoes are important potential vectors for the spread of various diseases. Constructed wetlands (CW) are breeding sites for mosquitoes especially when used to treat sewage water. This water is high in bacteria and organic material but has low oxygen and light levels. This means few mosquito larvae predators can survive but the larvae can feed and their population grow unchecked.

This study investigated the influence of container colour, and water dissolved oxygen, electrical conductivity, and temperature on mosquito oviposition and breeding success. Sets of 10 black and 10 white containers were set up in various locations for a period of 15 days. Water quality measures and egg raft counts were taken from the fifth up to the 15th day. After the 15th day of the experiment all larvae, (except for the first instar, and pupa) were collected and identified.

There were more rafts and larvae, and higher temperatures found in the black containers. The white containers had higher dissolved oxygen levels and lower conductivity levels, which suggests that white containers has a positive effect on dissolved oxygen levels in water. To minimize the breeding of Culex  mosquitoes in a CW it is therefore suggested white containers be used to minimize mosquito breeding.

To notch or not to notch? Evaluation of the current rhino notching program in the Greater Kurger Area (ZA) and development of a consistent guideline

Agnes Hussek, Prof. Dr. RER. Nat. Klaus Hacklander, Dr. Cleo Graf • October 2019

Monitoring of white (Ceratotherium simum simum) and black rhino (Diceros bicarnis) seems crucial, as populations of these species have been, and are still, severely threatened. Rhino often lack unique marks or patterns, which makes distinction between individuals, especially from a distance, difficult. To overcome this difficulty, various reserves of the Greater Kruger Area (GKA), South Africa, have embarked on ear notching programmes. Unfortunately, this programme has not been coordinated between reserves, despite them being part of an open, contiguous area.

The distribution patterns of African elephant (Locodonta africana) and white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum) in relation to waterhole availability in a South African savanna

Rosmary Wool, Prof. Dr. IR. J.P.G.M Cromsigt, Dr Cleo Graf, Pro. Dr. IR. M. Rietkerk • August 2019

Anthropogenic activities, including the illegal poaching trade, have been threatening the global population of elephants and rhinoceros for decades. Rigorous studies into the ecology of these megaherbivores are imperative for conservation strategies. I studies the relationship between water availability, and the African elephant and the southern white rhinoceros. Water resources are crucial environmental determinants of animal distribution within semi-arid habitats, particularly during the dry season when water is relatively scarce.

Environmental predictors for spatial variation in temperature in South African savanna and their predictive value for distribution of Southern White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum)

Laurens Broeze, Prof. Dr. Ir. J.P.G.M Cromsigt, Dr. C.M Graf, Prof. Dr. Ir. M.G.Rietkerk • August 2019

High temperature extremes are projected to increase in frequency and severity in southern Africa. This could negatively impact large animals more than smaller animals. The southern white rhinoceros is experiencing population declines across southern Africa, and efficiency of protection efforts are needed. Adverse effects from a warming climate could further decrease the potential for rhino population sizes to grow.

Mangalane Community’s perceptions of poverty as a factor influencing involvement in rhino poaching: a case study of Mozambique

Nelisiwe lynette Vundla and Prof Brian Child • December 2018

Illegal wildlife trade (IWT) involves the illicit purchase, movement and exchange of wildlife specimens as commodities within and across national boundaries. The illicit trade of wildlife is one of the largest threats to the survival of species, including rhinoceros and elephant populations in the wild, and has negative implications on the stability of national economies.

Effects of trophy hunting on Cape buffalo horn spread and population dynamics

Yasmin Hall, Dr. M.J.J Schrama, Dr. C. Graf • August 2018

Trophy hunting is often put forward as a sustainable way to contribute to conservation measures in many African countries, but there is question about whether sustainable trophy hunting has adverse effects on physical and demographical characteristics of hunted species.

Methodology for a vegetation survey in the rehabilitation area

Paul Villaespera, M. Grover and C. Graf • August 2018

This document is a help in setting up the protocol for a vegetation survey. This allows to display the effect of different types of management on the community areas over time. As s result, it helps in adaptive management, meaning that changes can be made quickly/ timeously to the system. Ideally, the results of these comparisons will help inform communities about the most effective and efficient working in their area.

Machine vision and Cape buffalo management: prospects of state-of-the-art technologies for wildlife management and conservation

E. Walker, C. Arteta, C. Graf, K. Robertson • November 2017

The aim of this study is to identify the feasibility and applicability of state-of-the-art machine vision techniques as a decision support tool for the management and conservation of Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer) populations in South African game reserves and to determine the role of similar technological affordances in the future of wildlife management and conservation practices.

A novel approach to aerial wildlife monitoring in Southern Africa: using aerial photography for demographic analysis of Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

C. Torres, B. McDonald, W. Uys, C. Graf • January 2018

Due to the lack of resources for monitoring wildlife populations, and greater pressures from illegal hunting and alternative land uses, managers in protected areas need increasingly detailed and current information about their reserves. This research seeks to understand how low cost aerial photography can be used for a more detailed analysis of animal populations, and how this will contribute to future wildlife management.

Academic Collaboration

Collaborate with the College on our research for your Masters or PhD Thesis.

Applied Research

Contact us with ideas for applied research you can conduct in conjunction with the College.