Animal Behaviourist

South Africa’s rich biodiversity has some of the most iconic species in the world, also including some of the most threatened, like the black rhino and elephant found in national conservation areas. These conservation areas are often surrounded by local communities sometimes impacted by human and wildlife conflicts. Animal behaviourism aims to understand animal behaviour and advise on their management and interactions in the biophysical and social environments.

Animal behaviourists study animal behaviour and interactions. They research a wide range of species including birds, wildlife and livestock, examining their instinctual behaviour and the psychology that shapes their interactions within biophysical environments and in relation to other animals and people. An Animal Behaviourist can also be involved in the planning, management and monitoring of species within specific environments, such as black rhino habitats.

Animal behaviourists primarily work outdoors in natural environments where animals can be observed. They often collaborate with other natural science researchers. They would also work from an office base and could work in a laboratory setting as well.

Skills

Animal behaviourists must have a strong background in zoology and animal behavioural theory. They will also benefit from:

  • A deep understanding of interactions in ecosystems and the natural environment
  • Excellent research competence
  • Astute skills of observation and extensive patience
  • The ability to work flexibly within some form of organisation structure

Tasks

Observe, collect and analyse data on the behaviour of animals

Develop plans and processes for the management of animals and their interactions within conservation and social environments

Advise conservation managers in decision-making processes

Studies

B.Sc., B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc. in Biological Sciences specialising in Zoology at all universities

B.Sc.Agric., B.Sc.Agric. (Hons), M.Sc.Agric. in Animal Science at NWU, SU, UFH, UFS, UNISA, Univen, Unizulu  and UP

Employers

Research institutions, zoos and aquariums.

Conservation organisations, both public, private and NGOs.

Private veterinary practices.

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