Current students

Zelda du Toit

Zelda is undertaking a Philosophiae Doctor degree through the University of the Free State She is studying the evolutionary relationship between the four African pangolin species, is investigating the population structure of Temminck’s ground pangolin populations in southern Africa and is also developing Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) to enable investigators to determine the region where samples originated from when this is not known. This will be particularly useful to law enforcement personnel when they confiscate pangolin derivatives that are being illegally traded. 

 Abimbola Baiyewu-Mpindu

Abimbola was awarded her Master of Technology degree at the Tshwane University of Technology. Abimbola is studying the prevalence of Temminck’s Ground Pangolins in the Traditional African Medicine trade in South Africa, and also documenting the various uses of pangolins and their derivatives in this trade. 

Maxwell Boakye

Maxwell has a doctoral degree through the Tshwane University of Technology, and is studying the prevalence of pangolin species in West African bushmeat markets. He is also documenting the various uses of pangolins and their derivatives in Traditional African Medicine in West Africa, as well as assessing the conservation impact that this trade is having on pangolin populations. 

Christine Steyn

Dr Christine Steyn is a lecturer for the undergraduate students in Anatomy and Physiology at the University of Pretoria’s Faculty of Veterinary Science. She has a passion for teaching, research and conservation of the environment. She is currently registered for her Master’s Degree in Anatomy (MSc Veterinary Science) and her research will focus on the gross anatomy of the front limb of Temminck’s Ground Pangolin. There is currently very little known about the functional adaptations of these animal’s limbs specific to their environment, and Christine hopes that with the research done she will be able to shed some light on the niche that these animals occupy in the wild.

Thando Radebe  

Thando is pursuing her Master of Technology degree at the Tshwane University of Technology. Thando is investigating the prevalence and identity of ectoparasites in African pangolin species using both morphological and molecular approaches, and will be relating her results back to the possible effects that these ectoparasite burdens have on individual pangolins. 

 Francois Meyer

Francois has a BSc in Conservation Ecology from the University of Stellenbosch. The title of his current work is the ‘Survival and distribution of Temminck’s ground pangolin retrieved from the illegal wildlife trade in South Africa 

The aim of the project is to gain a better insight into pangolins, specifically the ones that were confiscated from the illegal trade and then released back into nature. 

The research will hopefully aid in establishing new release protocols, in order to maximize the survival of these endangered animals. 

This project is the first of its kind globally, for any of the eight species of pangolin. 

Projects

  • Pangolins in peril: A perspective of their use as traditional medicine and bushmeat in West Africa (Maxwell Boakye, D Tech Tshwane University of Technology, 2017)
  • Ethnozoological survey of the traditional uses of Temminck’s ground pangolin (Smutsia temminckii, Smuts 1832) within South African tribal communities (Abimbola Baiyewu, M Tech, Tshwane University of Technology, 2018)
  • African pangolin and ectoparasite associations (Thando Radebe, M Tech TUT)
  • Survival, distribution and habitat use of the Temminck’s ground pangolin retrieved from the illegal wildlife trade in South Africa (Francois Meyer, MSc, University of Venda)
  • Monitoring the illegal trade in African pangolins and Temminck’s ground pangolin in South Africa; 2016 – present

Past students

Christle received her Master of Science degree from the University of the Free State for her molecular study on Temminck’s Ground Pangolins. Christle evaluated the feasibility of using different tissue types by evaluating their genetic yield, and also developed an initial set of microsatellite markers to use in pangolin molecular studies. 

Kimberley completed her honours project in the School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand. Kimberley used modelling and GIS software to investigate what factors govern the distribution of Temminck’s Ground Pangolin in South Africa, and her results will be used to guide future surveys to more accurately determine the distribution of pangolins in South Africa as well as guide reintroduction activities, if these become necessary. Her methods will form the basis for future research to model the distribution of all four African pangolin species.