We are seeking a student, who is interested in completing a PhD in pangolin research. They will be registered at the University of Pretoria, South Africa and based in a Conservancy in KwaZulu-Natal.

Suggested study title:

Adaptive behavior, habitat use and ecological traits of Temminck’s pangolin Smutsia temminckii reintroduced into a large conservation area in northern KwaZulu-Natal

In recent years, a large volume of data recording the fine-scale movements of pangolin released on the Munyawana Conservancy in Zululand has been obtained. The conservancy management team, in collaboration with the African Pangolin Working Group, University of Pretoria and Tshwane University of Technology, recognise the necessity of

a) using the current data set to evaluate the success of the programme,

b) using the current data set to investigate aspects of species’ movement ecology and microhabitat requirements in mesic habitats, and

c) investigate important aspects relating to the future conservation of pangolins in Zululand and the viability of reintroducing a population of these endangered mammals into a region where they were once well established.

We seek a PhD student, to be registered at the University of Pretoria, whose research will focus on these goals.

Project aims

  1. Review and establish a pangolin management plan for Zululand based on current and future release protocols, behavioral and movement data as well as strategies that have been and will be implemented as part of the reintroduction process for pangolins retrieved from the illegal wildlife trade.
  2. Test predictions concerning the pangolins’ behavioral ecology and fine-scale among-individual variation in habitat use in relation to territoriality, age, sex, vegetation type, soil type, weather variables (season, temperature, precipitation) and den (burrow) characteristics.
  3. Investigate the dietary requirement and preferences of preferred prey species in relation to prey abundance, prey activity, prey energy content vs. predation effort in relation to ambient variables (see no. 2), soil type and vegetation characteristics.

Contact

For further enquiries and to apply for this position, please contact Professor Ray Jansen (jansenr@tut.ac.za) or Professor Andrew McKechnie (andrew.mckechnie@up.ac.za).

The study is fully funded, including accommodation and a fieldwork vehicle. The student to be based at the Munyawana Conservancy (Phinda Private Game Reserve) in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

Download the details here.