Jeanne van Tonder

MSc student: Jeanne van Tonder
MSc student: Jeanne van Tonder

Jeanne grew up in the West Coast of South Africa and even though she loves the sea, her heart has always been in the “bush.” After moving to Kenya, she spent some time in the Amboseli National Park at the Kenya-Tanzania border and became fascinated by the Maasai people who, due to limited resources, are forced to have their livestock share a waterhole with wild animals. This symbiotic relationship proved the importance and ability of man and nature to coexist and sparked her interest in understanding human-wildlife conflict. 

Jeanne completed her BSc Conservation Ecology (4 years) degree at Stellenbosch University in 2021 and did her final-year project on “The influence of conventional and conservation agricultural approaches on the nitrogen cycle in soils used for Brassica seed production in the Western Cape of South Africa.” Even though she enjoyed soil science and working in the lab, her priority was to get back into the field and pursue a career that would honour Kenya and pay tribute to the people who taught her the most about the intricate, special relationship that exists between us and the environment.

When she heard of the Masters degree opportunity at the Cape Leopard Trust she knew that this was the perfect project for her since she should be able to combine her love for people and animals by investigating threats to leopards and people’s attitudes towards leopards in the Western Cape. Jeanne is a firm believer in “change brings growth” and looks forward to talking to landowners and other stakeholders across the province to determine where change is needed and where growth is already taking place!

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