MSc bursary: Scientific Authority (2017 – 2019) (vulture project)

3 March 2017 - 4:00pm

The South African National Biodiversity Institute is offering an MSc bursary to an enthusiastic student with strong conservation interests.


The research project, to be undertaken by the student in fulfilment of the requirements of an MSc, must contribute to the mandate of the Scientific Authority (see  The Scientific Authority was established in terms of Section 60 of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act of 2004 (NEMBA) to assist government with regulating the trade in specimens of threatened or protected species (TOPS) and species included in the Appendices to CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).


The Scientific Authority has determined that local trade in vultures is unsustainable at current harvest levels, and several species may go extinct within 15 to 30 years if current trends are not reversed.  The white-backed, white-headed and lappet-faced vulture populations could be locally extinct in as little as 11 years or less should research have underestimated the intensity of use.  A report submitted to the Scientific Authority revealed that vulture populations in eastern South Africa are rapidly declining.  Vultures are used traditionally for a range of purposes, primarily for clairvoyant powers.  An MSc research project is therefore proposed to address this urgent conservation issue.  The provisional title of the research project is “Effecting behaviour change in relation to the utilization of vultures for magical purposes”.


The SANBI will assist the student with finding an appropriate supervisor and will also nominate a SANBI co-supervisor.  The student will be expected to register with the relevant South African university by 22 March 2017.


All operational costs of the project will be covered by the SANBI.


Duration:  April 2017 – April 2019

Bursary information:  A student bursary of R 120 000 p.a. (excludes operational costs) will be awarded to the successful applicant and will be renewable in the second year of study.

Application procedure:  The attached form should be completed and submitted together with all the required documents to Subject: Scientific Authority MSc bursary (vulture project).  The applicant must motivate in his/her letter of interest why the SANBI should award the bursary to them. 

For further details regarding the project please contact:

Michèle Pfab (SANBI)

Tel.:  +27 12 843 5025


3 March 2017 - 4:00pm
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