Photo: Pieter Botha
Department of Botany and Zoology
I grew up in Bushbuckridge (Mkhuhlu) in the Mpumalanga Province and growing up with limited access to natural areas like Kruger National Park, which was 45 Km away from my house, inspired me to study Nature Conservation. I moved to the Western Cape and completed my National Diploma and Btech Degree from Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). I later completed an Honors Degree in Sustainable Development: Development Planning Management.
I currently work full-time as Regional Manager in the Biodiversity Management of the City of Cape Town where I manage the largest part of the City’s Biodiversity Network including three Nature Reserves. My responsibilities include the development of strategic and operational management plans for the region as well as managing stakeholder relationships both external and internal to enforce a participative approach towards conservation management.
Following ten years of experience in the Biodiversity Management, I decided to register for MSc Botany, supervised by Prof. A. Pauw (PhD) and Dr. S. Geerts (PhD). My project title is “THE IINGCUNGCU PROJECT: How restoring the nectar feeding bird community can identify and nurture leadership for biodiversity.” IINGCUNGCU is a Xhosa name referring to Sunbirds and Sugarbirds with long beaks. Urbanization is a global phenomenon and it is largely responsible for habitat fragmentation leading to a reduction in nectar-feeding birds among other challenges. Although there are only four species of obligate nectar feeding birds in the Cape, they are the pollinators of about 350 plant species.
The aims of this study are to bring about a convergence in ecology and society. The academic component of the project will attempt to answer the ecological question of whether corridors can be established and facilitate the movement of specialist nectar feeding birds across a landscape where they have been commonly known to occur in the past. The civil society component of the project will be a hands-on attempt at community engagement, in particular involving high schools. The project will be rolled out in Cape Town as a pilot project transferable to other urban areas. The ultimate aim is for Municipalities to take ownership of the project. My research questions therefore are; 1) whether planting of nectar plants will restore nectar feeding birds; and 2) whether restoring nectar feeding birds will have a positive effect on school children and in particular will help identify and nurture leadership for biodiversity?