Matt Lobenhofer

Born and raised in New York City with a passion for the natural world, Matt eagerly sought out any opportunity to be in touch with nature. His experience helping at an exotic animal veterinary clinic, spending weekends volunteering with birds and reptiles, and constantly trying to learn about his backyard wildlife and their taxonomy further cemented his feeling of obligation to protect what he loved so much. This led him to his undergraduate at the College of Environmental Science and Forestry where he majored in conservation biology.

Matt spent a summer in Costa Rica working for an organization restoring and connecting isolated and endangered scarlet macaw populations and their habitats. While there, he undertook a research project, working with the local government conservation group to assess the impact of rice farming on a river and the biodiversity of its banks. This culminated in a management plan detailing methods to restore this riparian corridor while appealing to the farmers. This began his interest in the relationship between fragmented habitats and the species they support.

After visiting South Africa and loving it, he stumbled into a job for an organization restoring and connecting habitat in KwaZulu-Natal. Beginning remotely during lockdown, he eventually spent time in the field once restrictions were eased. He heard about the Conservation Biology Masters programme at UCT while in the field in South Africa, and feeling that it couldn’t have seemed more perfect, he applied while still there. He is confident that what he learns from his peers and professors will better equip him to do the best he can for the planet and its inhabitants.

When not studying or chasing every bird that flies past with binoculars, he can usually be found in a martial arts gym or flipping around a gymnastics practice.

Thesis: Conserving seasonal patterns in nature: seasonal insect abundance and diversity in the Afrotropics. (Supervisors: Chima Nwaogu, Claire Spottiswoode, Charlene Janion-Scheepers).