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Snap shots from 11th Oppenheimer Research Conference

The Oppenheimer Research Conference creates a platform for researchers and practitioners in conservation sustainability to share their knowledge to increase its impact. Here are a few snap shots of presentations.

Letsema Molete: Dietary flexibility of bat-eared foxes in the semi-arid Kalahari

The bat-eared fox may hold clues to how to deal with climate change, say Letsema Molete, Andrea Fuller and Aliza Le Roux.

In their paper, “Dietary flexibility of bat-eared foxes in the semi-arid Kalahari”, they say that some small mammals such as the bat-eared fox may be able to buffer through recent or current climatic changes compared to other small mammals.  This is important, says Molete, to increase awareness of the effects of climate change and its potential impact on small mammals, especially those that are essential within their ecological niche.

She says she started her study “when long-term monitoring of invertebrates at my study site had revealed that ant and termite numbers were unusually low. The observations and measurements on two other myrmecophagous (ant-eating) mammals, the pangolin and aardvark, at the same study area indicated that these animals had insufficient food availability, which the bat-eared foxes also consume. I therefore aimed to assess whether bat-eared foxes were also likely to be nutritionally compromised through low ant and termite numbers, or whether they were able to cope through the intake of other prey items as a result of climatic changes in the Kalahari.”

Molete, is an ecological physiology graduate with background research on biological alien invasion. She has a passion for conservation and environmental management along with research interests in the effects and impacts of climate change on both fauna and flora. She finds research on the effects of climate change complex yet intriguing as a study focus, as it shows that the impacts of climate change affect the globe holistically, and it is important for scientists to increase awareness and dig deep to improve the knowledge and behaviour of society. Upon the completion of her MSc studies, she was recognised by the Golden Key Honour Society as one of the top 15% students in her school. She enjoys using programming language such as R studio as a way of analysing data. In the future, she hopes to gain and strengthen her skills in the scientific research field. Furthermore, she likes to see more companies within South Africa opening up opportunities for black students in the natural science and agricultural science field – as their representation is vital to South Africa and the globe.

Yves Vanderhaeghen

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