Paige joins the FitzPatrick Institute in October 2017 as Research Assistant to PhD student Amanda Bourne.
"I am a final year B. Tech Nature Conservation (post graduate, advanced diploma) student at Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria west. I have completed a three-year National Diploma in Nature Conservation with two years theory in ecological subjects and one year of Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) 2015. During the WIL program, I was employed as an intern in the Conservation department at Ingwelala Share Block Limited, which is a private nature reserve bordering the Kruger National Park and Timbavati Nature Reserve in Hoedspruit. At Ingwelala I completed ten months of practical training in reserve management, being a part of the field-labour team that is responsible for carrying out management tasks such as bush clearing, alien-plant control, bio-monitoring, infrastructure maintenance and so forth.
In 2013, while in varsity I had some exposure to bird handling by taking part in a training program aimed at teaching students about bird-ringing. We got to hold birds in a ringer’s grip whilst taking tarsus, wing, head and tail length measurements.
At the end of 2015, while still based at Ingwelala, I was introduced to research. I visited the NGO, Elephants Alive for a week and took part in the elephant research that they do in the Associated Private Nature Reserves (APNR) of Kruger. I took part in various field and office tasks related to several research projects that were on the go. These tasks involved tracking elephant groups (breeding and bachelor herds) and individuals using GPS technology and radio tacker and required the collection of elephant fecal samples.
I have also volunteered for the Landmark Foundation, an NGO which specializes in research in human-predator conflict particularly livestock farmers and leopards. I served as field assistant to the research technician there. I spent the week with him in Swellendam in the Western Cape, setting up cameras along the Breede River, traversing the rugged Fynbos terrain and carrying heavy loads of equipment. This project is aimed at capturing and assessing Leopard presence in major corridors (such as large river systems) on the interface between farmlands and natural habitat so that mitigation for possible conflict between livestock farmers and leopards can be achieved if there was an occurrence of leopard predation on livestock.
I am also completing my own research project in 2017 for my B.Tech which is focusing on the habitat associations (vegetation structure and soil texture) of the local dung beetle species diversity in the Lion and Safari Park.
I am passionate about biodiversity conservation and interested in research that explores relationships between the biotic and abiotic components of ecosystems, to discover the impacts that species have on their environment and vice versa so that meaningful conservation strategies can be implemented. I am interested in birds because they are not only interesting characters, but are excellent subjects in trying to understand these relationships between the living and the environment."