René has spent her whole life in the Western Cape of South Africa. She has always been passionate about animals, but it was not until her second year of undergraduate studies that conservation drew her interest – especially with regards to predators. She studied at the University of Cape Town and received her Undergraduate degrees in Applied Biology and Ecology and Evolution, before then obtaining her Honours degree in Biological Sciences. With her interests in mammalian predators and a fascination with local species, she chose an honours dissertation that investigated whether the C13/C12 and N15/N14 isotopic ratios of caracals found on the Cape Peninsula could indicate (i) trophic position, (ii) niche overlap between adults and sub-adults, (iii) if their feeding ecology is affected by a proximity to an urban habitat, and (iv) whether their diet differed according to their age. After receiving her Honours degree, she worked as an intern at the Oceans and Coasts Branch of the Department of Environmental Affairs for a year. When her contract as an intern expired, she then received two contract positions as a research assistant working on processing microplankton samples from the Transkei Coast. Her hobbies include reading, listening to music and drawing.