Camille Fritsch (MSc candidate), Prof Colleen Downs


National Research Foundation (NRF), Ford Wildlife Foundation, Phoenix Zoo: Arizona Center for Nature Conservation, DroneGear 


The goals of our study are to quantify the impact of hippo on their environment in Ndumo Game Reserve (NGR), KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa, and detail aspects of their ecology and behaviour to increase understanding for their conservation and management. This will contribute to understanding hippo spatial ecology and habitat use, as well as a better understanding of social structure and population dynamics. We are using drones, telemetry, and camera traps to collect our data. We hope that this work will ultimately contribute to the conservation of hippo, as well manifest the importance of the continued management of NGR, especially in regards to the conservation of hippo in South Africa.

Progress in 2020

2020 was a relatively slow year in terms of gathering new data as part of our projects on hippo behavioural ecology in South Africa. We deployed some telemetry units in 2019, from which we gathered some data in early 2020. Camille Fritsch was also fortunate in that he was able to analyze, write-up and submit his Ph.D. thesis during this time, and we have since either submitted or drafted most of those data chapters for publication. We also used 2020 as a time to plan a few telemetry-based projects in protected areas in South Africa in preparation for the resumption of field-based activities in 2021. We look forward to realizing a more conventional field season this year.

© Pictures by Camille Fritsch