Centre of Excellence

Dr Rob Little

Manager: DST-NRF Centre
of Excellence

Dr Rob Little

John Day Building: 2.04.1
Tel: +27 (0)21 650 4026



Rob Little was born in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, schooled at King Edward VII High School in Gauteng and his career in conservation began as a Forester in 1974. Rob attained national Diplomas in Forestry and Nature Conservation, a BSc degree in Wildlife Resources from the College of Forestry, Wildlife & Range Sciences, University of Idaho, USA, and a PhD degree on the behavioural ecology, population genetics, management and utilisation of the Greywing Francolin Francolinus africanus from the University of Cape Town. During 1974-1985, he was a forestry researcher, lecturer in forestry and nature conservation and warden of the Cathedral Peak mountain catchment reserve in the KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg. During 1988-1997, Rob was the co-ordinator of the Gamebird Research Programme at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town, which was largely funded by the African Gamebird Research, Education and Development Trust. Rob, together with Prof. Tim Crowe of UCT, published the reference book The Gamebirds of Southern Africa. Rob was Director: Conservation at WWF South Africa from May 1997 until July 2008. His responsibilities included directing the focus and activities of WWF-SA's conservation programmes and leading WWF-SA's contribution to biodiversity and environmental conservation in South Africa. He represented WWF-SA on WWF Network fora such as the Africa & Madagascar Subcommittee and the African Rhino Working Group as well as partnership fora such as the South African IUCN National Membership Committee and the Advisory Board of the Mazda Wildlife Fund. Rob was also the Chairman of the Elephant Management & Owners Association (EMOA) during 2006 to 2008. In April 2009 Rob took up the post of Manager of the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence (CoE) at the Fitztitute. He now acts as the Fitztitute link with the NRF and DST and manages the research activities which are funded by the CoE using Birds as Keys to Biodiversity Conservation. Rob has recently published the monograph Terrestrial Gamebirds & Snipes of Africa and Birding in South Africa’s National Parks.


Rob has authored 83 papers in peer-reviewed journals, including book reviews, 121 popular articles, 5 books and 9 book chapters, including 14 species accounts in The atlas of southern African birds (Vol. 1, 1997),12 species accounts in Roberts’ Birds of Southern Africa (Vol. VII, 2005) and 25 species texts in The Ultimate Companion for Birding in Southern Africa (Vol. 1, 2014)

Rob also Guest Edited a special memorial issue of Ostrich [2015 Vol 86(1&2)] in memory of Phil Hockey which attracted 20 papers, 17 with the Fitztitute’s author address and 12 with Phil as co-author. He is currently an Associate Editor for Ostrich.

Rob Little's full list of publications - Updated September 2019

Selected recent publications


Little, R.M. and Navarro, R.A. 2019. Implications of geographical range changes and resultant sympatry for three Accipiter hawks on the Cape Peninsula, South Africa. Ostrich 90(2): 139-142.

Mandiwana-Neudani, T.G., Little, R.M., Crowe, T.M. and Bowie, R.C.K. 2019Taxonomy, phylogeny and biogeography of African spurfowls Galliformes, Phasianidae, Phasianinae, Coturnicini: Pternistis spp. Ostrich 90(2): 145-172.

Mandiwana-Neudani, T.G., Little, R.M., Crowe, T.M. and Bowie, R.C.K., 2019. Taxonomy, phylogeny and biogeography of 'true' francolins: Galliformes, Phasianidae, Phasianinae, Gallini, Francolinus, Ortygomis, Afrocolinus gen. nv., Peliperdix and Scleroptila spp.


Atkins, A., Redpath, S.M., Little, R.M. & Amar, A. 2017. Experimentally manipulating the landscape of fear to manage problem animals. Journal of Wildlife Management 81(4): 610-616.


Zoghby, B., Little, R.M., Ryan, P.G. & Hockey, P.A.R. 2016. Patterns of roost site selection and use by Southern Ground-Hornbills in northeast South Africa. Ostrich 87(2): 125-130.


Zoghby, B., Ryan, P.G., Little, R.M., Reid, T. & Hockey, P.A.R. 2015. Seasonal changes in movement and habitat use by Southern Ground-Hornbills in the South African lowveld. Ostrich 86 (1&2): 87-96.


Mackay, B., Little, R.M., Amar, A. & Hockey, P.A.R. 2014. Incorporating environmental considerations in managing Egyptian Geese on golf courses in South Africa. Journal of Wildlife Management 78: 671-678.


Little, R.M. & Sutton, J.L. 2013. Perceptions towards Egyptian Geese at the Steenberg Golf Estate, Cape Town, South Africa. Ostrich 84: 85-87.

Recent book publications

Little, R. 2018. Birding in South Africa’s National Parks. Jacana Media, Johannesburg, South Africa. ISBN 978-1-4314-2689-8.

Little, R. 2016. Terrestrial Gamebirds & Snipes of Africa. Guineafowls, Francolins, Spurfowls, Quails, Sandgrouse & Snipes. Jacana Media, Johannesburg, South Africa. ISBN 978-1-4314-2414-6.

Little, R.M. & Crowe, T.M. 2011. Gamebirds of southern Africa. 2nd edition. Cape Town: Random House Struik. ISBN: 9781770079892; also as an eBook.