The FAIRALL AWARD for the best paper in the African Journal of Wildlife Research by a student author


The purpose of the FAIRALL AWARD is to recognise the research of up and coming students that have submitted a manuscript to the African Journal of Wildlife Research. For this recognition, SAWMA awards an annual prize to the best journal article by a student author. This award is named in recognition to the service that Neil Fairall gave to both SAWMA and the African Journal of Wildlife Research (previously South African Journal of Wildlife Research).


  • At the time of manuscript submission, the author needs to be a registered student (undergraduate or graduate) at a Southern African University.
  • The student contributor should be the lead author indicating that they contributed significantly to the design, implementation and subsequent write-up of the paper.
  • The check box for the student award on the manuscript submission page should be selected during the submission process.
  • A cover letter from the supervisor of the student; nominating the student for the award.

Adjudication process

  • The winner is selected by the Associate Editors of the African Journal of Wildlife Research at the end of each year.

The award

The FAIRALL AWARD will be presented at the Annual SAWMA symposium each year. The winner of the award will receive;

  • Membership to SAWMA for a year,
  • Free registration and accommodation for the duration of the symposium,
  • The opportunity to present the paper at the annual symposium.

Fairall Award Winner - 2023

The 2022 best student paper was by Emma Swartz entitled “Natural Vegetation Edges Promote Bat Activity in Macadamia Orchards in Northeastern South Africa”. (African J. of Wildlife Research, 52(1): (2021).

Emma achieved her Masters degree at the Chair of Wildlife Management, Mammal Research Institute, Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria


Agricultural intensification can result in extremely fragmented landscapes with typically only small natural areas remaining. The South African macadamia industry is expanding dramatically, with over 5000 ha planted per year. Remaining natural vegetation around macadamia orchards will be key to retain important ecosystem services such as biological pest control of insects provided by, amongst others, insectivorous bats. We evaluated how the activity of bat species on macadamia farms within different land-use mosaics is related to general insect abundance and what role the phenological stages of macadamias play. Recordings of bat echolocation and insect light trap collections were conducted (July 2019 – March 2020) at different edges of land-use types on two macadamia farms in Hazyview, South Africa. Results showed that edge type significantly influenced bat activity and insect abundance with natural vegetation edges recording the highest bat activity (n = 3153) and insect abundance (n = 16 524). River edges (bat n = 1635, insect n = 11 284) presented lower activity and abundance than natural edges but still double that of road edges (bat n = 695, insect n = 3743). Bat activity was also higher during developing-nut and mature phenology stages when pest insects peak. Bats from all foraging guilds were recorded during the study, which points towards a more intact bat assemblage within the study area compared to other macadamia areas in South Africa. Our study highlights the importance of retaining natural vegetation within an agricultural land-use mosaic to maintain biological pest control.

Fairall Award Winner - 2022

Michelle received her award from Jeanette Fouché the SAWMA Student Representative on Council.

The 2021 best student paper was by Michelle Pretorius entitled “African wild dog movement ecology in a small protected area in SA”. (African J. of Wildlife Research, 51(1): (2021).

Michelle is a PhD candidate at the Institute for Communities and Wildlife in Africa a the University of Cape Town


Dramatic population declines of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) led to a managed metapopulation approach for wild dog conservation in South Africa. Monitoring the survival and habitat use of packs reintroduced into protected areas (PAs) is an essential part of adaptive management and improving the health and, ultimately, the survival of the metapopulation. Our study describes the territoriality and habitat selection of a pack of wild dogs reintroduced into Manyoni Private Game Reserve (219 km2) in northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Despite being introduced into a small PA, the pack only utilized half their available space (121 km2) and avoided the central areas of the reserve. Post hoc analysis of African lion (Panthera leo) localities suggested competitive avoidance was a strong factor in shaping the habitat usage of the pack; however, further research is required. Habitat selection also varied seasonally and with denning. Ultimately, we showed that spatio-temporal analyses can help identify high-risk areas within wild dog territories, such as hotspots of activity along fencelines. These analyses can then be used to increase targeted management of these areas, such as improving the maintenance of well-used fencelines, which is an important consideration for the sustained success of the metapopulation across small PAs.

The Fairall award winner - 2019

Mr Tafadzwa Shumba

The winner of the 2019 Fairall Award is Tafadzwa Shumba for his paper, “African wild dog habitat use modelling using telemetry data and citizen scientist sightings: are the results comparable?”, published in African Journal of Wildlife Research, Volume 48 Number 1, Apr 2018, p. 1 – 13.

Click here to read the article


Quantifying landscape characteristics that wildlife select is essential for conservation and management action. Models that map wildlife resource selection tend to be informed by telemetry technology which is costly to acquire/maintain and potentially risky to deploy. Therefore, there is value in pursuing alternative data collection protocols, such as citizen scientist approaches to ascertain whether they can reveal results comparable to those derived from telemetry studies. The conservation of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) presents an interesting case study to examine this topic. The species is rare and wide-ranging, hence data collection is both challenging and costly. They are, however, a group-living species with unique and conspicuous coat markings, making them potentially well-suited to citizen science data collection strategies. Here, we fitted resource selection functions (RSFs) built from Global Position System (GPS) telemetry data, and from citizen scientist data, collected in and around Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. We assessed comparability of these RSFs by evaluating the relative importance of parameters, parameter coefficients (direction and magnitude of effect), and the spatial predictions of relative probability of use by African wild dogs. The most important predictors in both models were proportion of woodland and bushland, the number of habitat types, and distance to waterhole. Furthermore, spatial predictions from both models displayed a high degree of overlap (r = 0.74), indicating similarities in selected and avoided habitat patches. Our analysis demonstrates that sufficient citizen science data can be a valuable alternative to telemetry data for African wild dogs. We thus encourage the collection and use of citizen science data for similar analyses, particularly when funding is limited. Our work also highlights areas in and around Hwange National Park with the highest probability of being used by African wild dogs, which is where conservation efforts should be intensified.


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