Postgraduate Research &
Innovation Symposium (PRIS)

Perceptions of a local community about the aardvark (Orycteropus afer), a shy nocturnal mammal

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Ms Nolutho Makwati  is currently pursing her MSc in Ecological Sciences. She was born and raised by her late grandmother in the Eastern Cape. In 2016, she enrolled at the University of Fort Hare for a BSc degree in Zoology and Botany and graduated in 2019 with an honour’s degree.

In 2018, Makwati was appointed a member of the Applied Centre for Climate and Earth Systems Science (ACCESS), a science organisation funded by the Department of Science and Innovation. The following year she became a core lecturer at Habitable Planet Workshop 30 and 31, as well as a consultant for a Namibian company whose aim is to conserve biodiversity along the Benguela current.

‘My love for nature and the conservation of species inspired me to do this research,’ said Makwati. She finds the aardvark – a burrowing animal facing human threat – fascinating and her research aims to understand its foraging behaviour as well as gather people’s perceptions about, and use of, the animal.

Makwati is motivated by God, family, friends and all the people that believe in her. She looks forward to sharing her research with other people and learning about other fields of study. ‘COVID-19 affected us negatively, so I see this as a chance to meet and network with other researchers,’ she said

Words: Samantha Ngcongo