Academic Year 2023-2024
Institution Queen's University, Belfast


Pronouns: She/her

School: School of Biological Sciences

Project: Determining Buffalo Behaviour, Movement, Disease and Energy Costs to Assist Their Management and Conservation

Supervisors: Michael Scantlebury, Catherine Hambly, Nikki Marks & Craig Tambling

Undergraduate Education: BSc (Hons) Zoology, University College Cork

Postgraduate Education: MRes Animal Behaviour, University of Sussex

Research: Coexistence between humans and wildlife is one of the most important issues in modern biodiversity conservation. Protected areas provide a haven for wildlife, but as the human population grows there is an increased demand for space and thus increased contact between humans and animals. To ensure the welfare of both animals and people in protected areas, it is crucial to understand the basic ecology of target species, such as population estimates, distribution and movement. Similarly, we should focus on encouraging community-based conservation methods to maintain local participation in protected areas.

This project will focus on the African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) in Great Fish River Nature Reserve in the Eastern Cape of South Africa and will be conducted in collaboration with University of Fort Hare. Buffalo populations face several threats such as habitat loss, drought, poaching and disease. As of 2019, the IUCN Red List classifies the African buffalo to be ‘Near Threatened’ with population numbers decreasing across their range. I will be conducting research on various aspects of buffalo ecology to better inform buffalo conservation in this area. This research will answer several questions:

  • How many buffalo are currently in the reserve and is the population increasing or decreasing?
  • Where are the buffalo spending most of their time and do they have preferred travel routes and habitat types?
  • Are there patterns in buffalo behaviour and energy expenditure that may be indicative of stress or disease?

I will be using various field-based methods to gather data on population numbers, habitat use, distribution, movement and energy expenditure in order to answer these questions. Ultimately, this project will provide novel insight into buffalo ecology and behaviour and will allow for the implementation of an improved conservation management plan.