PhD bursary: Scientific Authority (2018 – 2021) (vulture project)

26 January 2018 - 4:00pm

The South African National Biodiversity Institute is offering a PhD bursary to an enthusiastic student with strong conservation interests.

The PhD research conducted under this bursary must contribute to the mandate of the Scientific Authority (see, established in terms of Section 60 of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act of 2004 (NEMBA) to assist government with regulating the trade in wildlife, specifically specimens of threatened or protected species (TOPS) and species included in the Appendices to CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).

The Scientific Authority has determined that local trade in vultures is unsustainable at current harvest levels, and several species may go extinct within 15 to 30 years if current trends are not reversed.  The white-backed, white-headed and lappet-faced vulture populations could be locally extinct in as little as 11 years or less should the intensity of use have been underestimated.  A report submitted to the Scientific Authority revealed that vulture populations in eastern South Africa are rapidly declining.  Vultures are used traditionally for a range of purposes, but primarily because it is believed that the brains of vultures imbue the user with clairvoyant powers.  It is proposed that a research project is undertaken to address this urgent conservation issue, with a provisional title of “Effecting behavioural change in relation to the utilization of vultures for magical purposes”.

SANBI will assist the student with finding an appropriate supervisor and will also nominate a SANBI co-supervisor.  The student will be expected to register with the relevant South African university by 15 February 2018.

All operational costs of the project will be covered by SANBI.

Duration:  March 2018 – March 2021

Bursary information:  A student bursary of R 150 000 p.a. (excludes project operational costs) will be awarded to the successful applicant and will be renewable in the second and third years of study.

Application procedure:  The attached form should be completed and submitted together with all the required documents to  Subject: Scientific Authority PhD bursary (vulture project).  The applicant must motivate in his/her letter of interest why SANBI should award the bursary to them.  The closing date for applications is 26 January 2018 (16:00).

For further details regarding the project please contact:

Michèle Pfab (SANBI)

Tel.:  +27 12 843 5025


26 January 2018 - 4:00pm
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