Nicki du Plessis
Although Nicki grew up in the city of Cape Town, the first time she felt the strong pull of nature was in the indigenous forests of the Eastern Cape. From the age of eight, Nicki’s father (who was an ornithologist at the time) allowed her to be his ‘field assistant’ on his research trips to the coastal town of Morgan Bay: home to several colonies of glossy birds with red bills known as Green Wood Hoopoes. Consequently, Nicki had the privilege of exploring some of the most untouched and beautiful parts of the country whilst learning about the natural world. Since then, she has taken every opportunity that has come her way to spend time in nature. Her choice to study a four-year degree in Conservation Ecology at Stellenbosch University was thus a very natural one (pun intended). During her final year dissertation which aimed to guide long-term rehabilitation efforts along a heavily invaded river in the Western Cape, Nicki was deeply struck by the extent of the multiple pressures on water availability in South Africa. In the 6 months between her Honours and Masters’, Nicki helped co-author a paper investigating the benefits of water-related investments into nature. Nicki is looking forward to learning and growing as a Conservation Biology student over the next year. She is confident that the course will expose her to a diversity of people and will strengthen her skills, preparing her for a career in sustainability. When Nicki has free time, you will either find her on her surfboard, or traversing the mountains of the Cape.