Plenary Speakers

Prof Maano Ramutsindela

Maano Ramutsindela holds a PhD in geography from Royal Holloway, University of London. He is Professor of Environmental and Geographical Science at the University of Cape Town. A Conon Collins scholar and a Fellow of the Society of South African Geographers, Ramutsindela held the Distinguished Hubert H Humphrey Visiting Chair at Macalester College (USA) and the Mandela Mellon Fellow of W.E.B. Du Bois Institute, Harvard University. He has published widely on peace parks in southern Africa, and his latest publication is “Greening Africa’s borderlands: The symbiotic politics of land and borders in peace parks”, Political Geography 56 (2017): 106-113.

Prof Armanda Bastos

Armanda Bastos is a professor in the Department of Zoology and Entomology where she heads the Molecular Zoology Laboratory (2000-present). The primary focus of her research is on infectious diseases of wildlife and on the generation of baseline data that can guide formulation of disease control policies that accommodate a conservation focus in the face of increasing anthropogenic demands. Her research which initially dealt with transmission of infectious diseases at the wildlife:livestock interface has broadened to include diseases of public health concern with her move from the Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute, where she was a Senior Veterinary Researcher (1994-2000), to the University of Pretoria. She believes that a key component of tackling OneHealth challenges in sub-Saharan Africa is building regional capacity to address the extensive host and pathogen diversity present on the continent, as it is only with this capacity that disease transmission at the interfaces between humans, wildlife and livestock (and associated conflicts) can be mitigated. To this end she has supervised / co-supervised to completion >40 students from 10 African countries, at Masters and Doctoral level, many of whom are lead authors on the >80 papers that her research group has published to date. Her talk will focus on OneHealth initiatives in southern Africa and how this approach lends itself to enhanced traceability of legally and illegally traded resources, thus potentially acting as a powerful deterrent for the latter.

Prof Leith Meyer

Prof Meyer is currently the Director of the Centre for Veterinary Wildlife Studies and an Associate Professor in Veterinary Pharmacology at the Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria. His qualifications include a PhD in Physiology, a Veterinary Science Degree (BVSc) and a Science Honours Degree in Wildlife Management (BSc Hon). His research interests include the behavioural and physiological consequences of veterinary management procedures in wildlife, with a particular focus on investigating novel ways of reducing the side-effects of wildlife capture with the intention of improving animal welfare and enhancing conservation and management procedures.

Dr Debbie Jewitt

Debbie Jewitt is a conservation scientist and works for Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, the provincial conservation authority for KwaZulu-Natal. She holds a PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand. Through her research, Dr Jewitt seeks to understand global threats, such as land cover change and climate change, and their impacts on biodiversity and seeks solutions to these threats. Dr Jewitt is a member of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas Connectivity Conservation Specialist Group, an Associate Editor for the African Journal of Range and Forage Science and a visiting Researcher at the University of the Witwatersrand, School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences. She is a Climate Reality Leader with the Climate Reality Foundation, and a qualified GIS trainer. She recently earned her Remote Pilot’s Licence to fly drones and is investigating the use of drones for conservation purposes.

Prof Rudi van Aarde

As Emeritus Professor at the University of Pretoria, Rudi van Aarde directs the activities of the Conservation Ecology Research Unit (CERU) as a self-sufficient research group in the Department of Zoology and Entomology. His research focuses on the spatial structuring and dynamics of African elephant populations across southern Africa and on the determinants of the responses of coastal forest communities to ecological restoration. He is the author or co-author of 204 peer-reviewed scientific papers, 13 book chapters, 126 technical reports, 56 popular articles, and has presented his research findings on 197 occasions at national or international conferences and public forums, several of these as invited speaker or guest lecturer. He has supervised 67 PhD and MSc students since 1991, and 11 post-doctoral fellows completed their research under his supervision. He has been a council member of ZSSA, SAWMA and RSSAf, president of SAWMA, and has served on several conservation management committees. He regularly reviews papers for high impact factor scientific journals and frequently advises industry, government and conservation departments on conservation-related issues. The University of Pretoria has awarded him for exceptional academic achievement on four occasions, and he is a Fellow of the RSSAf. He enjoys photography.

Ms Claudia Holgate (Dinner speaker)

Claudia Holgate hatched in Johannesburg and after fledging spent more of her time bird ringing and fencing, with a spot of studying in between. After finishing an MSc in Geography and Environmental science she started her career as an environmental scientist. Over the next 15 years she worked for Provincial government, the United Nations, as Project manager for the Greening of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, as a lecturer and researcher in climatology and environmental management at Monash University and as an independent environmental consultant. Her longtime dream, however, was to work in the Antarctic, which led to Claudia pursuing a career as a lecturer and expedition guide. In the last 10 years, Claudia has travelled to over 100 countries on 7 continents and has led over 50 trips to the Antarctic. Claudia also spent a number of years as the Environmental manager for the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO). Claudia currently lectures on climatology and ornithology, from the poles to the equatorial regions, and has personally seen major global environmental changes due global climate change. Claudia is also a critical care paramedic and instructor in advanced cardiac, paediatric and trauma life support and she is currently pursuing a PhD in Emergency medicine through UCT.

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