Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife welcomes researchers

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW) is increasingly enlisting the skills and talents of research partners to develop the scientific information needed to make effective biodiversity management decisions (applied research). In addition, EKZNW has committed itself to making protected areas available for research that benefits science and society as a whole (including so called 'academic research'). To facilitate these dual responsibilities –'parks for science' and 'science for parks' – EKZNW is striving to make protected areas in KZN more accessible to researchers. The following information and processes are designed to help make EKZNW protected areas more attractive and accessible places for researchers:

  • Support for priority research projects

  • Access to Scientific Information and Data

  • Research infrastructure

  • Research Project Registration, Permitting and Reporting processes

  • Ezemvelo's Expectations of Researchers

  • Contact us

  • Support given to priority research projects

    Ezamvelo KZN Wildlife maintains a list of priority research needs and will provide additional support to researchers who chose to tackle these projects. This may include use of research facilities and accommodation, free access to protected areas, logistical support (including in some cases field rangers or assistants), and access to long term data sets as well as providing letters of support for funding applications.

    Research Priorities

    Ezamvelo KZN Wildlife maintains a list of priority research projects under a series of themes. In addition each protected area develops and maintains a list of research priorities based on an assessment of information gaps in relation to making management decisions. As these priority lists become available in digital format they will be added to the web site; for protected areas where lists are not available on the web site please contact the relevant Manager Ecological Advice for the Protected Area concerned.

    The lists of priority research topics are listed below:

  • Research Priorities List for the Protected areas North West Region
  • Research Priorities List for the Protected areas South West Region
  • Research Infrastructure

    To promote research activities a number of research centres have been developed in key EKZNW protected areas across the province. These research centres will assist researchers by providing accommodation, office and laboratory space, access to databases and other information, as well as logistical support (including, in some cases, field assistants).

    During the registration process you can enquire about the availability and conditions of use of research accommodation. Generally, given the need to generate income to offset the inadequate State subsidy for conservation, no discounts are given for the use of tourist accommodation.

    You will need to quote your Project Registration Number when making a booking for any research accommodation.

    Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Research Facilities

    Research Associate Programme

    EKZNW operates a Research Associate programme whereby academics can partner with EKZNW staff during faculty sabbaticals to conduct research that contributes to addressing priority research needs. A key component of the programme, other than providing unparalleled access to monitoring data and opportunities to tackle applied problems, is building capacity in EKZNW scientists. During the sabbatical the researcher will be considered part of EKZNW and will be able to write and report on behalf of the organization, and use the affiliation with a credible conservation organization to support funding applications.

    Research Project Registration, Permitting and Reporting processes

    All research conducted in Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW) protected areas must be registered and approved prior to commencement. In addition, it is a legal requirement that collection permits must be obtained whenever biological specimens are collected.

    Biodiversity research conducted outside protected areas does not have to be registered with EKZNW, unless any form of assistance is required from EKZNW, but it is still a legal requirement that collection permits must be obtained whenever biological specimens are to be collected.

    Please note that for archaeological/paleontological research conducted in protected areas a permit will be required from the appropriate heritage authority (Amafa and/or SAHRA) in addition to an EKZNW permit and registration of a project.

    NOTE: iSimangaliso Wetland Park is controlled by a separate authority and has a slightly different application and approval process. Please contact the iSimangaliso Wetland Park directly.

    When your project is successfully registered you will be given a unique project registration number which you must use as your reference on all correspondence, and which will be required when entering the protected area or making a research accommodation booking. You will also be given a Researcher Identification Card which must be kept on you at all times; this card is not transferable to a third party. It will include your project registration number and will specify the validity in terms of protected areas and time frames as per the project registration.

    To encourage scientists to pursue research in EKZNW protected areas, the registration, permitting and reporting processes have been streamlined.

  • Download Data Request Form

  • Download Project Registration and Scientific Collection Permit application form

  • Download Annual Research Project Progress/Final Report format

  • Download Biodiversity database data import template

  • Role of Ezemvelo Scientific Services

    Conservation science has developed rapidly over the last 20 years in response to mans accelerating imprint on the earth’s surface, its natural resources and biodiversity. Conservation science has emerged from the physical, biological, ecological and social sciences as a discipline of its own and which depends very strongly on the statistical, mathematical and information sciences. We see the role of its practitioners in the organisation as being to:

    Ensure that conservation management decisions are underpinned by sound ecological principles and the best available scientifically-based information.

    Within the overall scope of the organisations vision, mission and strategic goals, the primary areas to which the scientific team can and is expected to contribute are outlined.

  • 1. Contribute to development of the philosophy, process and innovative solutions for the management of biodiversity

  • set biodiversity conservation targets (provincial level, protected area level)

  • Identify biodiversity conservation priorities and contribute to integration into strategic plans

  • advise on how best to achieve biodiversity conservation priorities

  • monitor progress towards achievement of biodiversity conservation priorities/targets
  • develop protected area management principles and philosophy

  • develop sustainable resource use principles and philosophy

  • develop decision frameworks for biodiversity management

  • contribute to the development of and interpret implementation requirements of national and international obligations

  • 2. Acquire, manage and facilitate access to biodiversity information

  • develop biodiversity/ecosystem monitoring programmes (thereby providing a means to evaluate performance and progress towards corporate goals)

  • undertake and facilitate appropriate research

  • developing an understanding of the value to society of biodiversity and associated ecosystem services

  • develop and manage biodiversity information systems

  • evaluating and reporting on biodiversity status and trend

  • 3. Provide professional advice to inform conservation decision making

  • provide advice to facilitate decisions that achieve a balance between biodiversity conservation and socio-economic demands

  • participate in the management processes as part of the decision-making team

  • interpretation and conversion of information to usable knowledge

  • recommendations on permit applications

  • ensure biodiversity conservation policies are underpinned by biodiversity information and ecological principles

  • improve efficiency and effectiveness of approaches

  • These roles when adopted by the organisation essentially define the function of the scientific community within the organisation. Seen within the context of the adaptive management model (Figure 1), scientists and the information they collect (from research and monitoring projects and programmes) and disseminate, scientists currently in the organisation play important roles in:

  • Advising on and developing management objectives and standards

  • Developing monitoring and assessment protocols and programmes, processing and reporting the information.

  • Evaluating the outcomes of biodiversity assessments and monitoring against management goals and objectives.

  • Figure 1. The adaptive management model.

    Existing Science Structures

    The existing structures which address the functions outlined above are serviced by units operating within the regions and centrally at Head Office (Figure 2).

    Currently, the role of the Ecological Advice units is primarily (although not exclusively) to develop regional and local management objective and goals, incorporate these into management plans and work programmes, develop and undertake appropriate monitoring programmes, and based on the results and trends demonstrated in these activities, to advise on appropriate management. The role of the Biodiversity unit is primarily to identify and monitor the status of important biodiversity at a provincial level, set biodiversity targets, develop spatial plans for the conservation of biodiversity and monitor the change in status of biodiversity in relation to management.

    Figure 2. Current structures servicing the scientific functions in KZN Wildlife.

    The planning unit is primarily engaged with identifying and mitigating the impact of development on biodiversity, protected area expansion strategy, land use planning for biodiversity conservation, development of environmental management systems, and contributing to international protocols.

    All units are responsible for the collection, management and dissemination of biodiversity data and information. Much of this information is assimilated into and disseminated from the corporate biodiversity database and other regionally managed databases

    Characteristics of a Winning Science Team
    For the organisation to achieve leadership in conservation, it will need to be supported by a highly professional science team, made up of members with the following characteristics.

  • Appropriately qualified, well informed and up-to-date scientists

  • Independent, innovative critical thinkers

  • Goal/outcome orientated and focussed

  • Motivated, passionate, enthusiastic, hard working and catalytic,

  • Principled and ethical in their approach (of high integrity)

  • Good communicators both with scientific peers but also with ‘client’ (management structures)

  • Accountable and service orientated

  • Flexible and adaptable in approach and implementation

  • Must be able to work in a team/collaborative environment.

  • Respected in the scientific community, recognised nationally for doing good science.

  • A commitment to undertake good science and apply it to critical problems

  • A desire to learn, grow and advance personally

  • Well defined roles, responsibilities and reporting structures

  • Demographically representative

  • Adequately resourced and remunerated

  • The development and retention of such a conservation science team focussed on the agreed roles and responsibilities will be the subject of a focussed strategy.

    Ezemvelo's Expectations of Researchers

    Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife`s expectations of researchers and favourable factors in relation to registration of research proposals

    Our requirements from you will be spelled out during the registration process. In summary we would generally look more favourably on proposals that address the following:

  • Commitment to employing local field assistants

  • Protected areas are important job creaters in rural areas, and it is important that local people benefit from opportunities provided by protected areas

  • Upholding of high ethical standards and rigorous application of the scientific method

  • Proposals from academic institutions must have been passed by the relevant ethics committees

  • Research design should have been critically reviewed by a statistician so that confidence can be placed in the results

  • Commitment to present research results and recommendations to protected area management teams

  • EKZNW host an annual Symposium of Contemporary Conservation Practice at which researchers are encouraged to present results and recommendations

  • Researchers or their supervisors are required to present results and any management recommendations to the management teams of the relevant protected areas

  • Publication of findings wherever possible (scientific and popular articles)

  • Copies of all theses, reports and publications must be made available to EKZNW

  • We encourage the publication of research findings in popular and semi-popular publications to make the results more accessible to a wider audience

  • Signing of a contract

  • This contract will specify inter alia rules with respect to behaviour, communication and ownership of data

  • Prompt submission of research progress reports

  • A research progress report must be submitted to the respective Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife project coordinator for the period 1 April – 31 March each year of registration by 30 April in that same year

  • Acknowledgement of support received from EKZNW in all publications/reports

  • We expect all publications and popular articles to name the protected areas in which the research was conducted and to acknowledge the support received from EKZNW

  • Access to Scientific Information and Data

    Researchers working in Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW) protected areas will have unparalleled access to species inventories and long term monitoring data, including long term vegetation monitoring, fire and climatic records.

    Researchers will also be able to review previous research projects and publications, thus aiding development of research proposals, testing hypotheses and analyzing information about the protected areas.

  • Details of all current and completed registered research projects and findings of completed projects are available.

  • Comprehensive bibliographies of all research publications, reports, theses etc. are available for some areas.

  • Many important documents relating to the history of conservation decisions in KZN are available in the EKZNW library at Head Office (Queen Elizabeth Park, Pietermaritzburg). The library also has a comprehensive collection of text books relevant to nature conservation, copies of completed theses, and subscriptions to many relevant journals.

  • Extensive GIS data sets and their associated supported documentationa are available for most protected areas, and district municipalities.

  • For more information on any of the above please contact data@kznwildlife.com


    Research and monitoring efforts within the protected areas are supported by a series of partnerships with other institutions and programs. Examples of existing partnerships include hosting the SAEON Grassland, Wetland and Forest Node, a partnership with CREW, and MoUs with ORI, EWT, WWF-SA and the Botanical Society of southern Africa.

    Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW) would like to develop formal partnerships with academic institutions to facilitate research, especially to address key research themes and questions. However, it is EKZNW policy not to grant exclusive rights to certain areas or subjects – we encourage a collaborative and competitive approach to problem solving.

    Scientific Research Contacts

    EKZNW is divided into two management regions (East and West), each of which has a team of ecologists providing management support and who coordinate research in protected areas (see map below). In addition, general conservation research is co-ordinated through the Office of the Head of Scientific Services based at our Head Office in Queen Elizabeth Park, Pietermaritzburg.

    East Region Protected Areas

    Manager Ecological Advice East (Craig Mulqueeny)
    Phone 031 - 2741150

    West Region Protected Areas

    Manager Ecological Advice West (Ian Rushworth)
    Phone 033 - 2391511

    General Conservation Research

    If your proposed research will be conducted across more than one management region or across the entire Province, or for general queries please contact:

    Manager Biodiversity Spatial Planning
    Phone 033 - 8451434

    If you would like to enter into a research partnership with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife or if you would like to find out more about becoming a Research Associate please contact: General Manager Scientific Services phone 033 - 8451470