Emma Fagan

Emma grew up in Cape Town and has a lifelong passion for animal welfare, wildlife, and conservation. From a young age she showed an interest in animals and the natural world, and spent many hours watching nature documentaries, volunteering at the SPCA, assisting with sterilisation drives, horse riding, birding, hiking and rock climbing. She has also always had a great feeling of responsibility when it comes to giving back to the community of South Africa.

Emma’s initial plan was to do veterinary medicine at Onderstepoort, but instead she found herself doing a medical degree at the University of Cape Town. After completing her MBChB in 2017, she moved to Kimberley to do her medical internship, but quickly found that she lacked the passion necessary for a career in medicine.

She spent next few years volunteering and doing part time work. During this time, she discovered Wildlife ACT at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi park and their Endangered Species Program. She volunteered there for 6 weeks and completed a baseline conservation course the following year. In doing so, she finally rediscovered the inspiration she had lost. She loved being part of the day-to-day fieldwork and the tracking and monitoring of key species on the reserve but was also excited by the possibilities of the data collected. This inspired her to apply for the Conservation Biology Masters degree at the Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology.

Through this postgraduate programme, she aims to formally lay a foundation for a career in conservation biology. As her career unfolds, she hopes that by combining her skills and the perspective that she gained in medicine, her passion for conservation, and the knowledge she gains during the Conservation Biology MSc, she can contribute to conservation in South Africa. Her goal is to lead and collaborate with research teams to address the complex issues faced in our rapidly changing world, and to help initiate and develop future research that will guide necessary conservation solutions.

Thesis: Evaluation of the elephant contraception program at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (Supervisors: Timothy Kuiper, Jacqueline Bishop).