Young Science Communicator Winner

I am pleased to announce that I have won the ‘open’ category for Young Science Communicator of 2018 with NRF-SAASTA! My entry below, named “Finding fish“, illustrates our environmental DNA research through cartoon! This exciting work is being carried out in the von der Heyden lab at Stellenbosch University, South Africa, in collaboration with the Molecular Ecology…

Exciting new tool for marine conservation: environmental DNA

Fish and other aquatic animals shed DNA into the surrounding water. This means that seawater is filled with the DNA of the animals living there, and this is known as environmental DNA (eDNA). Scientists have used environmental DNA to study a range of animals, from earlier eDNA studies in 2008 (e.g. on the invasive American Bullfrog),…

Celebrating #worldelephantday

It’s world elephant day today, and I’ve just returned from Tsavo East national park, Kenya. This park is home to the largest group of elephants in Kenya, with over 12,500 individuals, representing around one third of all elephants in the country. It was breathtaking to see these animals. We saw them at the watering hole,…

Shimba hills nature reserve

It was an early morning to begin our safari day, and I always enjoy watching the moon fade as the sky goes from starry black to blue. The stars here are incredibly bright and in the daytime the sky is so, so blue that I could stare up there all day and night. We arrived…

Romantic sunrise with the crabs

Sunrise in the mangroves is a dream! I’ve learnt so much about them over the past few weeks and it’s amazing sitting here watching all the burrowing crabs emerge from their burrows and sassily throw sand around!As soon as I move, all the crabs return to their burrows, so I have no photos… but now…

Sustainable livelihoods

Today we visited the fish ponds in Makongeni, South Kenya. There is a local group in the village (90% women) who run the fish ponds. They gain benefits for the community (from selling the fish product) whilst avoiding using and degrading the local mangrove ecosystem. There are five fish ponds, with milkfish of different life…

Mikoko Pamoja

We have had fascinating talks about the management of mangrove ecosystems and learnt all about PES (payment for ecosystem services) this week. Here in Gazi Bay, South Kenya, the two villages (Gazi and Makongeni) conserve the local mangroves by replanting new seedlings and protecting the existing forest in a project called Mikoko Pamoja, loosely translated…

WIO Mangrove Training

Today the two week course in Western Indian Ocean (WIO) mangroves started! We have had some fascinating talks already about mangrove distribution and services, threats to mangroves and then the general biology, ecology and phenology of mangroves. Somebody mentioned evolution of mangrove trees… I’m excited to read up on this later because there are visible…

Chapati the cat

Today we did do work (I promise!), but we also found an abandoned cat. We fed it milk and it escalated, and it is now named chapati…!

Monkey take over

Much to my excitement, our dinner hut was full of monkeys when we came back for lunch! They scarpered as soon as we walked in (unfortunately… as I was in awe!). They were climbing all over the surrounding trees and roofs, and stared at us whilst we ate! It looks like the black-faced vervet monkey…