The African Institute for Conservation Ecology (AICE) is a non-profit (NPO) and public-benefit organisation (PBO), established in 2016. We aim to promote ecosystem services and processes of living landscapes through research, training and community engagement.
Dr Lourens Swanepoel :
Dr Lourens Swanepoel is a senior lecturer at the Department of Zoology, University of Venda and a founding member of AICE, teaching conservation biology. Lourens has 15 years’ experience in conservation with a PhD, MSc and Hons in wildlife management and degree in animal science. The rapid chaining and degradation of the environment is one of the key challenges facing society. Responses to these changes are shaped by the cultural background, financial resources, access to technology and skill level of societies. His interests lie in methods to bridge these gaps, especially how ecological capital can relate to/enhance or sustain human societies. To this end his research focus on changes in ecosystem processes, and hence ecosystem services, and how these effect society. Specific focus is on predation as an undervalued ecosystem services that not only benefit society, but also plays an important role is shaping ecological communities. Through AICE he aims to implement conservation actions emanating from his own or other research, assist young and aspiring conservation students in ecological research/training and assist local communities in applying management actions.
Prof Stefan Foord :
Prof Stefan Foord is a biodiversity scientist and currently Professor at the University of Venda and an established ecologist with 20 years of experience in field and laboratory-based research, undergraduate teaching and postgraduate supervision. He is a director of AICE and also a core team member of the Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology. His research interests include ecological modelling to aid understanding the impacts of global change drivers on invertebrate species and assemblages. More specifically this include responses of mountain ant assemblages to elevation, national assessment of spider diversity and conservation, thermal biology of insect pests and the response of freshwater invertebrates to changes in flow and temperature.
Mr Lesly Nembudani :
Mr Lesly Nembudani is one of the directors at AICE. Lesly holds a four year Bachelors degree of Earth Sciences in Mining and Environmental Geology and an MSc in Environmental Sciences, with 5 years’ conservation experience, including small mammal ecology and community engagement. He is involved in local student ecological research project logistics and implementation. He is a key member in several community engagement projects which investigates the ecological and biological control of rodent pests through predation. One of his passions is ecological education as a tool to enhance predators in rural landscapes which involves local schools, tribal authorities, traditional leaders and small holder farming communities.
Dr Natasha Constant :
Dr Natasha Constant is a research fellow for the South African Research Chair on Biodiversity Value & Change at the University of Venda and an Honorary Research Associate at the Sustainable Places Research Institute at Cardiff University in the U.K. Natasha has 9 years’ experience in conservation with a PhD in anthropology, an MRes in biodiversity and conservation, and a degree in zoology. Currently, she is exploring the prospects of a biocultural approach to facilitate a community-based restoration planning process to guide inclusive and sustainable outcomes for ecological restoration on community rangelands in South Africa. She is also interested in the social-ecological factors influencing human-wildlife conflicts and the impacts of management interventions and education initiatives for wildlife conservation and human perceptions and behaviours.
Ms Elmarie Coetzee
Elmarie is a Professional Accountant (SA) in public practice, as well as a tax practitioner, registered with the South African Institute for Professional Accountants. She holds both the degrees B.Comm (Business Management and Systems Analysis) and B.Comm (Accounting Sciences). Her interest in nature and nature conservation, has led to a keen interest in the activities and project involvements of AICE. She offered her professional skillset to better the management and operational functions of AICE, thereby becoming part of the team. As she is an advocate for proper financial planning and management, she strives towards increasing compliance, transparency and effective reporting with regard to proper utilisation of donor funding received.