Dr Sally Hofmeyr

MSc Conservation Biology course co-ordinator


Sally was inspired to study the natural world after going on a wilderness trail in the Umfolozi Game Reserve as a high school student. During her undergraduate studies in wildlife science (at the University of Natal), she discovered the wonder of bird ringing and birding. She completed her masters in African Mammals (University of Pretoria), including a research project on giraffes in the Kruger National Park. She took a few years out of university, doing (among other things) outdoor education for British school children, aerial photography in South Africa and Mozambique, and an internship with the IUCN.

Eventually she returned to academia and did a PhD and a postdoc in ornithology at the Animal Demography Unit, University of Cape Town. For these projects she used citizen science data to look at how large terrestrial birds (cranes, bustards, korhaans, secretarybirds) were responding to environmental change. During that time she also qualified for her bird ringing licence and established a constant-effort ringing site in Cape Town. She also became involved in penguin monitoring work on Robben Island and post-fire bird monitoring on the Cape Peninsula. She did a second postdoc, also with the ADU, on communication about science with the public.

Sally has been working mainly as a freelance academic editor since 2016, but in 2018 she joined the Fitzpatrick Institute on an ad hoc basis as a field technician on the Red-winged Starling Project on campus, catching and colour-ringing the birds to find out how far they range and investigate the dynamics of this special campus population. In 2023 she was excited to take on the role of course convenor for the prestigious Conservation Biology Master's course, which she combines with her ongoing editing work. 

Peer-reviewed publications:

Bates A.E., Primack R.B., Biggar B.S., et al. 2021. Global COVID-19 lockdown highlights humans as both threats and custodians of the environment. Biological Conservation. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2021.109175

Mills, A.J., Spear, D., Ndhlovu, T., Knight, M.H., Peinke, D.M., Hofmeyr, S.D. and Cowling, R.M. 2014. Biomass of large herbivores in South African subtropical thicket. African Journal of Ecology. doi: 10.1111/aje.12162.

Hofmeyr, S.D., Symes, C.T. and Underhill, L.G. 2014. Secretarybird Sagittarius serpentarius population trends and ecology: insights from South African citizen science data.  PLoS ONE 9(5): e96772. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0096772.

Fleming, P.A., Hofmeyr, S.D., Nicolson, S.W. and du Toit, J.T. 2006. Are giraffes pollinators or flower predators of Acacia nigrescens in Kruger National Park, South Africa? Journal of Tropical Ecology 22:247-253.

Fleming, P.A., Hofmeyr, S.D. and Nicolson, S.W. 2007. Role of insects in the pollination of Acacia nigrescens (Fabaceae). South African Journal of Botany 73:49-55.

Contributor to:
De Villiers, M.S. (ed.). 2009. Birds and Environmental Change: building an early warning system in South Africa. SANBI, Pretoria