PhD student

Abraham Dabengwa

Thesis topic: Exploring the use of palaeoecological proxies along altitude, rainfall and herbivore gradients in the KwaZulu-Natal Province

Supervisors: A/Prof Lindsey Gillson and Emeritus Prof William Bond
Office: Room 5.12.2, HW Pearson Building
Telephone: +27 21 650 2762



Abraham started his conservation/ecology career with a BSc Honours in Forest Resources and Wildlife Management at the National University of Science and Technology (Bulawayo, Zimbabwe) in 2002. During his time there he was interested in carnivore conservation, particularly cheetahs and their maiming by farmers as livestock pests. He was introduced to some birding and joined Birdlife Zimbabwe and it was through this organisation that he got involved in a water-foul census and threats to indigenous bird populations. For his BSc report, he investigated micro-mammals eaten by Barn Owls (Tyto alba) and did some morphometric analyses to estimate prey sizes using rodent skulls under Professor Peter Mundy. 

He moved the University of the Witwatersrand in 2007 to study for a MSc in Resource Conservation Biology. He instantly became interested in remote sensing and geographic information systems tools available and their applications in understanding species behaviour and its implication on conservation. His thesis investigated the use of GPS telemetry data and aerial photography in understanding the movement patterns, habitat use of sable antelope (Hippotragus niger) in relation to woody cover under Dr William Cain, III and Professor Barend Erasmus. He did some voluntary work at the Environmental Evaluation Unit in 2010 under Professor Rachel Wynberg and Professor Merle Sowman. In 2011 he registered for a PhD in Botany at UCT to further his understanding of landscape dynamics/ecology and how this affects herbivores, fire and vegetation patterns. His present work investigates disturbance patterns (i.e. fire and herbivore abundance) in space and time along with their effect on vegetation dynamics across altitude and rainfall gradients at 3-4 sites in KwaZulu-Natal using palaeoecological proxies. He is working with Associate Professor Lindsey Gillson and Professor William Bond.

Conservation ecology, landscape ecology, reconstructing herbivore histories, savannah ecology, fire ecology, animal behavioural ecology, geospatial analyses