Prof. Justin O'Riain

Behavioural ecology, Sociality, Evolution, Mammals, Human-wildlife conflict, Conservation, Wildlife management 
Phone: 021 6503645 

Prof Justin O’Riain is a behavioural ecologist with a special interest in understanding and mitigating conservation conflicts in southern Africa. He obtained his PhD at UCT in 1996 on the evolution of sociality in naked mole-rats with a subsequent postdoc on meerkats with the Universities of Cambridge and Paris. Gainful employment took the form a senior lectureship at UCT in 2002 and he is currently a full professor and Director of iCWild. O’Riain’s goal for the next six years is to grow iCWild into an international brand of interdisciplinary research excellence with both local and global impact in the field of conservation conflicts.

Within the fields of behavioural ecology and conservation biology, Prof O’Riain will continue his long term work on the proximate and ultimate causes of sociality in mammals while including a new research emphasis on the importance of behavioural studies in deriving sustainable solutions to mammal species in conflict with humans in southern Africa.

Currently, he is supervising students working on a variety of species and systems throughout southern Africa.

Current postgraduate students

Marine Drouilly (PhD candidate) The Karoo Predator Project – Understanding the socio-ecological mechanisms behind farmer-predator conflict in the Karoo, South Africa (co-supervised by Nicoli Nattrass, Allan Clark and Beatrice Conradie)

Matthew Rogan (PhD candidate) Analyzing camera-trap surveys of leopard (Panthera pardus) populations to improve monitoring and inform conservation (co-supervised by Guy Balme and Greg Distiller)

Tamlyn Engelbrecht (PhD candidate) Behaviour and spatial ecology of the broadnose sevengill shark (Notorynchus cepedianus) in South Africa (co-supervised by Alison Kock and Adam Barnett (James Cook University))

Zoe Woodgate (PhD candidate) The effects of land use on the presence of medium and large mammals in the South African drylands, with a focus on riverine rabbits (co-supervised by Greg Distiller and Christy Bragg)

Joselyn Mormile (PhD candidate) Spatial patterns and decision making of a troop of baboons in response to urban land transformation and human perceptions (co-supervised by Nicoli Nattrass)

Marina Tavolaro (PhD candidate) Conservation conflicts in Namibian communal conservancies (co-supervised by Stephen Redpath)

Michelle Blanckenberg (PhD candidate) Impacts of landscape scale land-use change on mammalian populations and vegetation in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), using a BACI experimental design (co-supervised by Gary Bronner and Nicoli Nattrass)

Vincent van der Merwe (PhD candidate) Management of cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) metapopulations in Africa