Doctoral students

Christiaan Brink

Christiaan Brink
MSc Conservation Biology, UCT


Christiaan’s keen interest and sense of wonder for the natural world coupled by a rational and critical thinking brain and a growing awareness of environmental issues, led him to a career in Conservation Biology. Christiaan completed both his undergraduate and honours degree in Zoology at the University of Pretoria (2012). His honours project defined the methodology for combining photogrammetry with camera-trapping. In 2015 he completed the MSc Conservation Biology course at the University of Cape Town.  His project assessed the feasibility of a potential bearded vulture reintroduction in South Africa by identifying suitable habitat and simulating different management strategies.

Christiaan has also spent two years (2013-2014, 2016-2017) on the sub-antarctic Marion Island working as a field researcher for the South African National Antarctic Program. His work focussed on a variety of species: seals, orcas, albatrosses and petrels.

His current PhD allows him to combine his study interest of Conservation Biology with his childhood fascination of birds of prey. His PhD aims to evaluate the role of supplementary feeding, or vulture restaurants, in vulture conservation in South Africa. During the course of the project he will investigate: the factors that influence the success of vulture restaurants; whether the artificial diet has adverse effects on vulture health; and to what extent vulture restaurants contribute to a reduced risk of poisoning. With this project he hopes to aid the conservation of the world’s most threatened group of birds.


Investigating the viability and potential impact of vulture restaurants as a strategy to conserve South Africa’s plummeting vulture populations. Supervisors: Robert Thomson, Arjun Amar, Andrea Santangeli (University of Helsinki)


Brink, C.W., Thomson, R.L., Amar, A., Girardello, M. and Santangeli, A. 2021. Prevalence and drivers of poison use by South African commercial farmers and perceptions of alternative livestock protection measures. Ambio. 

Brink, C.W., Krüger, S. and Amar, A. 2020. Potential release sites and strategies for a Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus reintroduction in South Africa. Ostrich 91(2): 118-128. 

Brink, C.W., Santangeli, A., Amar, A., Wolter, K., Tate, G., Krüger, S., Tucker A.S. and Thomson, R.L. 2020. Perceptions of vulture supplementary feeding site managers and potential hidden risks to avian scavengers. Conservation Science and Practice 2(8).

Brink, C.W., Santangeli, A., Amar, A., Wolter, K., Tate, G., Krüger, S., Tucker, A.S. and Thomson, R.L. 2020. Quantifying the spatial distribution and trends of supplementary feeding sites in South Africa and their potential contribution to vulture energetic requirements. Animal Conservation 23(5) 491-501.