The CLT Scientific Advisory Board has been established to create a collaborative academic platform to advise on predator focused scientific research. Using The Cape Leopard Trust as its overarching identity the board will assess research project applications and record these at a central point, thus ensuring that research is not duplicated and that predator research standards are continually improved. The board will encourage greater cooperation between academic institutions, motivating new partnerships and increasing access to potential funding opportunities.
We would like to introduce the members of the founding board:
Dr Bill Horsnell (Research Board Chair ) – University of Cape Town
Dr Bill Horsnell is a lecturer and researcher at the Institute of Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine, University of Cape Town. Bill has had a long term interest in natural history, which led him to undertake a degree in Applied Zoology at the University of Leeds. Here he developed an interest in parasitology and biochemistry, which resulted in a PhD at the Royal Veterinary College in cellular biology and biochemistry. His in depth knowledge of the local and international research environment makes him an ideal choice to facilitate and chair the newly established advisory board. Bill has been a part of The Cape Leopard Trust since its inception and has agreed to chair the Scientific Advisory Board for its first three years.
Prof Les Underhill – University of Cape Town
Les Underhill is Professor of Avian Demography and a former Trustee of The Cape Leopard Trust. He was appointed to the Department of Statistical Sciences at the University of Cape Town in 1972 as a Lecturer, and received ad hominem promotion to Professor in 1992, after having been Senior Lecturer (1976-1982) and Associate Professor (1982-1992). The ADU leads the MammalMAP project in partnership with the Mammal Research Institute at the University of Pretoria. This initiative is a collaboration with professional scientists, conservation organisations, wildlife authorities and citizen scientists across the continent. The aim of MammalMAP is to help consolidate African mammal locations into an open-access digital database. The database software will generate online distribution maps that will not only yield crucial information for species and landscape conservation policies, but will provide an excellent platform for educating the public about African mammals and their conservation challenges.
Dr Jacqueline Bishop – University of Cape Town
Jacqueline Bishop’s research interests centre on the use of molecular, behavioural and ecological data to understand the relative contributions of genetic drift and selection in shaping variation in natural populations of vertebrates. This involves a range of molecular and analytical approaches to elucidate evolutionary genetic history from the level of individuals and parentage assignment to the analysis of genes, populations and species. Jacqueline has an ongoing interest in the evolutionary drivers of mate choice behaviour, together with understanding the relative importance of adaptive genetic variation in free-living populations. Working within this framework Jacqueline uses a number of taxa as models to test current theories. These have included crocodiles, rhinoceros, baboons and mole-rats, and more recently seabirds, bats and marine fish.
Dr Stephen Compton – Rhodes University
Dr Steve Compton is an English ecologist and entomologist with a particular interest in plant-animal interactions. Research themes include the biological control of aliens, the conservation of rare insects, the pollination of fig trees and the biology of parasitoids. Currently Dr Compton holds academic positions at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa and the University of Leeds in England. His research is largely field-based, and mainly carried out in warmer parts of the planet.
Dr Alison Leslie – Stellenbosch University
Dr Alison Leslie of the Department of Conservation Ecology & Entomology at Stellenbosch University, is collaborating with the CLT on a number of exciting leopard and other carnivore projects both in South Africa (Gouritz and Northern Cape leopard projects) and in Malawi. Former Cape Leopard Trust CEO, Quinton Martins, joined the department as a research fellow at the beginning of 2014 and still holds this position.
Alison has a PhD and MSc in vertebrate ecology & physiology from Drexel University in the USA and a BSc Zoology & Botany from the University of Stellenbosch. Her MSc focused on the nesting ecology of leatherback sea turtles in Central America and her PhD on the ecology of Nile crocodiles in the then named Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park. Alison’s research interests are broad but lie primarily in the field of wildlife management, including human/wildlife conflict. She is a senior lecturer in wildlife management in the department and has worked extensively in South Africa, Costa Rica, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi and Burundi. Her current research focus is in Majete Wildlife Reserve in Malawi in collaboration with African Parks Pty (Ltd). Alison has published numerous peer reviewed papers and is continuously presenting her work at national and international conferences. She has also participated in 20 television documentaries, produced by National Geographic, Animal Planet, the Discovery Channel and the BBC, to mention a few.
Dr Dan Parker – Rhodes University
Dr Parker is an Associate Professor at the University of Mpumalanga and continues to maintain research links with the Rhodes University Department of Zoology and Entomology. Dr Parker trained as zoologist under the mentorship of Professor Ric Bernard at Rhodes University completing a MSc on giraffe feeding biology in 2004 and a PhD on the impact of elephants on the ecosystems of the Eastern Cape, South Africa in 2008. In between MSc and PhD studies he took a research "gap year" and worked for Oxford University's Hwange Lion Research Project in Zimbabwe alongside Drs Andy Loveridge and Zeke Davidson igniting his keen interest in carnivore biology.