for tomorrow

NMMU News

24/07/2015

Prof Graham Kerley, Director of the Centre for African Conservation Ecology (ACE), a research entity at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, recently received the Zoological Society of Southern Africa (ZSSA) Gold Medal for outstanding achievements in Zoology in southern Africa over a number of years.  

Prof Graham Kerley

 

He received the award at the joint congress of the Entomological Society of Southern Africa and the Zoological Society of Southern Africa in Grahamstown.

Prof Kerley is a life member and past president of the ZSSA and the society believes his contributions to Zoology, specifically in the field of conservation biology in South Africa and internationally, merit his consideration for the award.

His interests are primarily at the interface between ecophysiology, resource use and global change. Specifically, the interaction between conservation status and resource use is a major thrust in his research activities. He has received numerous awards for his contribution to conservation science in South Africa, most notably: “Top Ten Conservationists of the Decade Award – Mazda Wildlife Fund”, Nelson Mandela Bay Citizen of the Year Winner – Environmental Conservation”, “Mail and Guardian Trust Award” and the “Mike Cawood Trophy for Outstanding contributions to Conservation and Game Management in the Eastern Cape”.  The academy evaluates the contributions of its members based on teaching and learning, research (scientific contributions) and community engagement. We believe that

Prof. Kerley has consistently excelled in all three spheres in almost three decades. He has successfully supervised numerous master’s and PhD students to completion and has many more students currently under his supervision. He has also mentored several postdoctoral fellows who have proceeded to become successful academics in their own right. He also regularly hosts research fellows from across the globe. Prof Kerley serves on the editorial boards of several national and international journals and regularly acts as reviewer for a multitude of journals.

In addition to these professional activities, he also serves in an advisory capacity to various South African Agencies, including government, and has been at the forefront of ensuring that sound scientific principles and supporting evidence form the backbone of key conservation legislation and policy in South Africa.

Prof. Kerley has convened several key symposia and conferences, including the Annual Conference for Conservation Biology, one of the largest international meetings in Conservation Biology.

Another feather in the NMMU cap is the awarding of the Stevenson Hamilton Medal for 2015 to ACE research associate Dr Andre Boshoff, for outstanding contributions towards the image and awareness of Zoology, especially among the general public.

This nomination reflects the exceptional contribution that André has made to furthering the image and awareness of zoology in southern Africa, this to both the scientific fraternity as well as to the public. André has enjoyed a long and illustrious career in conservation science and he is nationally recognized for his research on raptors and vultures, as well as the historical perspective of large mammals. Throughout his career, André has gone out of his way to disseminate his research and other insights.

He played a lead role in editing the two Skead volumes (2007, 2011) on the historical incidence of mammals in the former Cape Province, and is the lead author on the book of the same topic that deals with the Free State Province and Lesotho (2013).

Prof Boshoff’s contribution to furthering zoology within the scientific community includes:

-       Lead role in the establishment and editing of Bontebok, the in-house journal of Cape Nature Conservation.

-       Lead role in “Proceedings of the workshop: Vultures in the 21st Century - research and conservation in southern Africa” and “The Vultures of Southern Africa - Quo Vadis?”

He has, throughout his career, been committed to making information available to the broader public in order to make a difference to society, and this is highlighted in the following contributions that he has made:

-       Co-developer of the concept for the Greater Addo National Park (Kerley & Boshoff 1997), this representing a then cutting edge combination of the fields of conservation and development. This concept attracted national and international attention and support, resulting in the then 12 500 ha Addo Elephant National Park being expanded to nearly 171 000 ha today, and still growing. The success of this endeavor lies in the effectiveness of communicating the concept to the broadest array of stakeholders.

-       Co-developer and lead author on the proposal to develop the Baviaanskloof MegaReserve (Boshoff et al. 2000), as well as two follow-up reports on this concept (Boshoff 2005, 2008). This concept has also attracted national and international attention and funding, and this area is now a World Heritage site, with a substantial investment in reserve expansion and local environmental friendly developments. Again, the key intervention here was the high impact communication of the concept to the broadest range of stakeholders.

The re-publication of the two Skead books on the historical incidence of large mammals of the former Cape Province has resulted in an upsurge in public awareness of the amazing large mammal fauna which has largely been lost locally over the last few centuries from this area.  Furthermore, new sections were added to both books, to better contextualize and interpret the historical records. These books have been very well received by the public, featured on national TV and reviewed in a number of lay publications.

Maintaining this theme, Prof Boshoff led the process to research, write and publish a book covering the historical records of large mammals in the Free State Province of South Africa and the entire Kingdom of Lesotho (Boshoff & Kerley 2013). This book has also captured the public imagination, presenting as it does evidence for the former presence of vast herds of plains game that rivaled the modern Serengeti spectacle, as well as showing how quickly these herds were decimated.