Protected Areas Advisory Committee Meeting in Anysberg Nature Reserve

Last Saturday, Zoe Woodgate, a PhD student working on the critically endangered riverine rabbit across the drylands of South Africa, and Marine Drouilly went to Anysberg Nature Reserve in the Little Karoo to present their respective project and some of their results to the farmers living around the protected area. The meeting was chaired by Marius Brand, Anysberg Nature Reserve’s manager.

Anysberg Nature Reserve in the Klein Karoo.

It was a great opportunity to exchange with mostly lifestyle farmers this time and we were delighted to see how conservation-minded the whole community was! Both Marine and Zoe were asked lots of interesting questions after their talks.

PhD student Zoe Woodgate presenting her work on the critically endangered riverine rabbit.

The Karoo Predator Project would like to thank Cape Nature and Marius Brand for inviting Marine to the meeting and giving her the opportunity to share her work with more people.

Great surprise for Marine: Marijke and Marlie Gouws, the farmers family who accommodated her in the Karoo and helped her so much with her project, travelled to the Little Karoo to come to the meeting!


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The KPP involved in the revised Red List assessments for mammals

Dear readers,

The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) are launching the 2016 Red List of Mammals of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. This Red List provides an up-to-date assessment of the state of South African mammals, of which 57 (17%) are deemed to be threatened with extinction and 34 (10%) are Near Threatened.

Assessments are carried out through vast networks of scientists, conservationists and other stakeholders pooling their knowledge. Red Lists have become the backbone of global conservation as a unified and standardized tool to measure biodiversity loss and inform policy and conservation planning. The 2016 Red List of Mammals of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland was produced by the EWT and SANBI, with collaboration from the universities of Cape Town and Pretoria’s MammalMAP and the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC), provincial and national conservation agencies, museums and universities. For more information on these Red Lists, click here.

The Karoo Predator Project took part in several of these assessments for:

  1. the caracal
  2. the black-footed cat
  3. the black-backed jackal (soon to be available)
  4. the grey rhebok (national (soon to be available) and global)
  5. the chacma baboon

Have a look at them, they are full of interesting information!


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Launch of iCWild, the new Institute at the University of Cape Town

Hello everyone,

I am really excited to announce the launch of a newly-created interdisciplinary Institute at the University of Cape Town, called iCWild for Institute for Communities and Wildlife in Africa. The aim of the Institute is to understand the “wicked problems” stemming from conservation conflict.

The Institute is working closely with researchers and students, NGOs, government agencies… on different species and systems, from baboons, caracals and sharks in Cape Town to leopards in KZN and jackals in the Karoo.

The Karoo Predator Project is part of the Institute and it’s Storme Viljoen, our little MSc student, who became its manager, based at UCT. Well done Storme, we are proud of you!

If you are interested in wildlife and communities in Africa, and how both interact on the continent, please consider following the Institute’s facebook page (, Twitter ( and Instagram ( accounts. They will be populated with news, pictures, stories from the field and much more very soon.

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Another great SAWMA symposium

The South African Wildlife Management Association (SAWMA) held its annual symposium in the Boland mountains of the Western Cape during the week of 10-14 September. This year’s main theme was “Wildlife Management in the Face of Global Change”. Scientists, students, managers and decision makers in the field of wildlife and natural resource management gathered to present their work and discuss the latest research and management findings in (southern) Africa.

Both Justin and Marine presented their work, but Justin talked about monkey management in Cape Town. Unfortunately, Marion could not present her research on Karoo baboons this year. We also missed Storme who is busy writing up her research at the moment. Marine presented her camera trapping work in a talk titled “Community structure, diversity and distribution of semi-desert mammals and ground birds living on farmland and a protected area” and won the second prize for the PhD presentations.

Marine giving her talk to the SAWMA audience.

This year, we were lucky to once again have really interesting keynote speakers. It was great to have the chance to meet and discuss with colleagues from all across the country. The Association did an excellent job in organizing the symposium, which was very successful. Prof. Steven Redpath (University of Aberdeen), Dr. Pip Masters (Envisage Environmental Services, Australia) and Dr. Ben Allen (University of Southern Queensland) joined Justin and some students from iCWild for a post-conference field trip.

The Karoo Predator Project would like to thank SAWMA for the great symposium they organize each year and AfriVet and ESAG for the super cool student prizes!

Marine, all happy with the books she received as the runner-up of the PhD presentations.



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New published paper

Dear followers,

I am glad to share with you today a new publication in which the Karoo Predator Project took part recently about the phylogeny of African jackals. The research was led by Dr. Anagaw Atickem, Dr. Christian Roos and Dr. Dietmar Zinner from the German Primate Center (DPZ) in Germany. It was published in Zoologica Scripta under the title “Deep divergence among mitochondrial lineages in African jackals“. This study contributes to close the gap in our knowledge about the evolutionary history of canids by investigating the phylogenetic relationship between populations of African jackals Lupulella mesomelas and Lupulella adusta. And yes, as you have noticed, the black-backed jackal won’t be called Canis mesomelas anymore, but Lupulella mesomelas! But the most exciting and interesting point of the paper is that the two mesomelas populations, the one from southern Africa and the one from Eastern Africa, might in fact be two different species. More research is needed to conclude on that last point though.

You can click on this link to read the paper at Wiley or read the abstract below:

Recently, molecular analyses revealed that African and Eurasian golden jackals are distinct species. This finding suggests re-investigation of the phylogenetic relationships and taxonomy of other African members of the Canidae. Here, we provide a study on the phylogenetic relationship between populations of African jackals Lupulella mesomelas and L. adusta inferred from 962 bp of the mitochondrial cytochrome b (cytb) gene. As expected from its disjunct distribution, with one population in eastern Africa and the other one in southern Africa, we found two mitochondrial lineages within L. mesomelas, which diverged about 2.5 million years ago (Ma). In contrast, in L. adusta with its more continuous distribution in sub- Saharan Africa, we found only a shallower genetic diversification, with the exception of the West African population, which diverged around 1.4 Ma from the Central and East African populations. Both divergence ages are older than, for example the 1.1–0.9 million years between the grey wolf Canis lupus and the African golden wolf C. lupaster. One taxonomic implication of our findings might be that the two L. mesomelas populations warrant species status. However, genome-wide data with adequate geographical sampling are needed to substantiate our results.

Camera trap picture of a young black-backed jackal on a farm in the Central Karoo.


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Denis Palanque talks about his experience with the KPP for 1Frame4Nature

Dear readers,

today I would like to share with you the article written by Denis Palanque for the ILCP (International League of Conservation Photographers) 1Frame4Nature initiative.

1Frame4Nature is a collection of images and stories from around the globe of your personal connection to nature. Denis chose to speak about his experience in the Karoo with the Karoo Predator Project. His article was published on the National Geographic blog “Voices for Wildlife”. Thank you Denis for sharing your personal experience with us.

Seeing all the beautiful pictures Denis and Nathalie took in the Karoo makes me miss the Karoo and the farmers so much! But important work is underway at UCT, with the analysis of all the data collected, the writing of papers and of course the PhD… More on this subject soon.

To view Denis’ article, follow the link below:…/1frame4nature-gold…/

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The Karoo Predator Project down under

Last July, The Karoo Predator Project was at the 12th International Mammalogical Congress in Perth, Australia. Happening only every 4 years, the Congress provides “an important forum for professional mammalogists wishing to remain updated on the last marine and terrestrial mammal conservation topics, research concepts and techniques.”

Painting of a numbat, the Western Australian state emblem, in a car park in Freemantle.

Western grey kangaroo at Dryandra Woodland, Western Australia.

The theme of IMC12 was “Advances in mammalogy in a changing world” and encouraged discussion of future challenges and novel solutions in mammal biology, conservation and management. The Congress offered different symposia and it is under the “Advances in research and conservation of small African carnivores” that Marine gave a talk on caracals on farmland in the Karoo. The symposium was organized and chaired by Dr. Paula White from the University of California Los Angeles, USA and by Dr. Emmanuel Do Linh San from the University of Fort Hare, South Africa (more about one of their interesting projects in a future blog post).

Marine’s presentation about caracals on farmland during the IMC12 in Perth, Australia.

The Congress was a great opportunity to listen to and meet prominent international  speakers. It was particularly interesting to meet Professor Claudio Sillero, Chair of the IUCN Canid Specialist Group, who talked about the biology of Canids in human-dominated landscapes. Other talks about coyotes, dingoes and African carnivores were all relevant to the Karoo Predator Project. The Congress was also a great opportunity to attend talks about other subjects.

Dr. Benjamin Allen’s presentation on dingo conservation in Australia.

Plenary speaker Prof. David Mcdonald talking about “The paradigmatic lion: From social biology to social media” at the IMC12 in Perth, Western Australia.

Attending the IMC12 in Perth also gave the chance to explore the surroundings of Perth and to join some of the mid- and post-conference tours organized for the occasion. It was an amazing experience to meet the quokkas of Rottness Island, to visit the endangered native species breeding programme of Perth Zoo and to go on a nocturnal tour at Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre Inc to spot woylies, bilbies and boodies (you should Google these creatures!).

Quokka on Rottness Island, Western Australia.

The post-conference tour at Dryandra Woodland, a valuable nature conservation area featuring the largest remnants of original vegetation in the Wheatbelt, was particularly interesting. Along with the other researchers, we visited the Barna Mia exclosure that aims to protect endangered native wildlife from introduced predators, we trapped for woylies and possums, and did some birdwatching. We even found the strange tawny frogmouth during the last evening of our stay! But the highlight of the tour was certainly to capture and radio-track Western Australia’s state emblem, the numbat.

Exclosure to protect endangered numbats and woylies from stray cats’ and red foxes’ predation.

The top of the fence is floppy to prevent predators from climbing on it.

The bottom of the fence is made of an anti-dig apron anchored to the ground with metal pieces.

A female numbat equipped with a radio-tracking collar. Numbats are endangered due to the predation of introduced carnivores.

The Karoo Predator Project thanks all the people who made this trip possible and who shared their experience about the incredible native Australian wildlife.


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