Rochelle Mphetlhe

Most of the work Rochelle has  done in previous years was voluntary at the University of Botswana while she was an undergrad student. She was placed in a 2-month industrial attachment/internship at the Department of Environmental Affairs, Tsabong Office in 2016/17, during the winter semester break of her second year. Here, Rochelle worked as an assistant environmental impact assessor under the supervision of Mrs. Moremedi.  Working at DEA opened her eyes to all the environmental issues existing in Botswana, and the processes involved in trying to mitigate them. In her third year of University, Rochelle received an industrial attachment at Okavango Research Institute (ORI), Maun for 2 months during the winter semester break where she worked as a part-time researcher under the supervision of Dr. Motsholapheko, Senior Research Scholar, on a project about the implications of veld/wildfires in an outskirt of Maun, a settlement called Boro.

As a beginner in the field of wildlife conservation, Rochelle wants to gain skills and experience required for expertise in the field. This project will expose her to a wide range of training, support, and mentoring from teammates that should prove useful going further in her career. These skills will enable her to stand out from the crowd, and become an expert in her field, giving her the necessary tools to make change and add value.

Rochelle has registered for Master of Science under the supervision of A/Prof Arjun Amar and Dr Glyn Maude (Raptors Botswana), and hopes to publish a peer-reviewed scientific paper on the status of the endangered raptor species in Botswana. She also would like to produce and submit a management report to the local authorities concerning the status and population trends of raptors found in the country. After completing a MSc, she wants to study towards a PhD in wildlife conservation, and to then contribute to the conservation of wildlife within Botswana, which is still in need of well-trained local personnel. The decline in raptor populations across the globe, including several species classified as Critically Endangered (e.g., African White-backed Vulture, Hooded Vulture & White-headed Vulture) has sparked her concern and interest in these species as they need particular attention. She hope the results from her study will make a difference and assist decision and policy makers to act towards the protection of raptors in Botswana.

Thesis: Quantifying national abundance changes of raptors across Botswana using repeat road surveys. Supervisors: Arjun Amar, Glyn Maude.