Merlyn Nkomo

MSc Conservation Biology (Cape Town)

Merlyn is from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Growing up in a city on the fringes of a high-density suburb, her first experiences with nature were childhood excursions with friends to the nearby dam to fish, catch locusts and set traps for passerines. A visit to Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage when she was nine years old gave her an introduction to the issues in conservation as she was heartbroken to find that the family’s favourite animal, the rhino, had been poached just the previous night. As a child she wanted to be a custodian of wildlife. This led her to pursue an undergraduate degree in Forest Resources and Wildlife Management. In her 3rd year, she decided to specialise on birds for her undergraduate internship, choosing to work in vulture conservation. Her final year thesis was entitled “Facial blushing in Cape Griffon vultures”.

In 2017 she was selected to be an International Conservation Science Trainee at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in the USA. There, she took part in raptor migration counting, conservation science and leadership training, the American Kestrel farmlands nest box project, conservation education and even Black Bear tagging. In Zimbabwe, she volunteered on a White-backed Vulture breeding survey project where she was awarded the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary SOAR grant in 2019. Additionally, she was awarded the African Bird Club grant for a pilot survey on the Southern Ground-hornbill in Matobo Hills in the same year. She completed her Masters in Conservation Biology in 2021 with a minor dissertation entitled “The influence of rainfall on the Verreaux’s Eagle and its prey species in the Matobo Hills of Zimbabwe”. Merlyn is currently a PhD student supervised by Assoc. Prof Arjun Amar and Dr Megan Murgatroyd. She is a writer and commentator, passionate transformation and inclusivity in conservation. Her hobbies are cooking, hiking, mountain climbing, wildlife and portraiture photography, drawing and writing. 

Thesis: The movement ecology of Jackal Buzzards around wind energy facilities in the North and Western Cape Provinces of South Africa. 


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