Fortunate Mafeta Phaka

Former PhD student

BSc Environmental Management
BSc Hons Environmental Sciences
MSc Environmental Sciences

Joined the group in November 2018

Research project: Biocultural diversity of herpetofauna in South Africa: State and relevance as a science-based policy tool for conservation and social inclusion.

I am investigating the relationship between South Africa’s herpetofauna and people’s diverse cultures. These types of studies are usually carried out at a global scale, however national level research more appropriately fits the context of national policy which it seeks to inform. Focusing on taxonomic groups that are often ignored and the culture of previously marginalised people holds great prospect for simultaneously achieving both conservation and social development objectives. In addition to documenting cultural knowledge systems and testing their scientific merit, this study ties people’s perspectives and value systems to biodiversity protection which often focuses on intrinsic value of protecting biodiversity with little regard for its impacts on people who are the ultimate beneficiaries of conservation interventions.

My favorite quote: “Work with what you have.”

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