Request Proposal

Research Wilderness Species Population

Faculty-LedFaculty-Led | Ecology & Conservation Zimbabwe


The ability to monitor and survey species population numbers is fundamental to understanding the ecology of any local environment. This program explores the skills and techniques that may be employed in order to measure population numbers. Students are given exposure to competencies in a broad range of relevant areas including spoor identification, scat analysis, survey design, call-up surveys, camera traps, transects, ‘bioblitz’, data extrapolation and the use of tools such as cyber tracker.

Why the Zambezi Valley?

The Zambezi Valley is a unique wilderness environment consisting of a string of inter-linked national parks which straddle eight countries and are home to the ‘Big 5’. Zimbabwe in particular has a significantly under resourced national parks service resulting in large data gaps and a desperate need for species population analysis. One of the parks in which we work has had no significant research conducted for 30 years. Parts of the park itself have not been visited by parks officials or rangers for well over a decade.

EDU Africa has been granted unprecedented research access to three of the region’s most significant national parks; Victoria Falls National Park, Hwange National Park and Chizarira National Park (heavily poached in the recent past and now undergoing rescue). Research access includes permission to appropriately travel off the main roads on foot with scouts, to conduct species call-ups, to perform animal reintroductions and to conduct darting and collaring operations. We are able to make use of the full range of survey techniques and report our findings directly to the newly appointed resident ecologist as well as other relevant parties.

Not only are we presented with an extremely broad mandate, we are able to conduct research that is extremely valuable and has a direct impact on plans to revitalize these strategic parks. Research work takes place in both Victoria Falls and Chizarira National Parks.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this program, students should be able to

  • Review the skills required in order to safely undertake field research in an African wilderness environment. This includes animal behavior, spoor identification and location specific survival and navigation skills.
  • Demonstrate a working knowledge of the various methods of data collection and survey techniques.
  • Design a population study for a species relevant to the long-term strategic plan for Chizarira National Park.
  • Conduct the population study employing the relevant data collection and reporting techniques.
  • Assess their survey outcomes against other corroborating data and analyze their implications on the wider ecology of the park.

Note: Specific learning outcomes and activities can be constructed in collaboration with EDU Africa’s dedicated curriculum development team.


Dr Norman Monks

Norman holds an MSc in Conservation Biology from the University of Kent in Canterbury, a Certificate in Industrial Environmental Management from Rhodes University and a Doctorate in Wildlife Management from the University of the Free State. Norman retired after a 37-year career working for Zimbabwe National Parks, this included stints as head warden at Mana Pools and Gonarezhou National Parks, among others. He currently works as CEO of a regional conservation trust.

Exeverino Chinoitezvi

With an honors degree in Wildlife, Ecology and Conservation from Chinhoyi University, Exeverino has been working for Zimbabwe National Parks since 2011. He currently holds the position of Senior Ecologist for Chizarira National Park. Much of Chizarira is seldom visited and it is widely believed that the park is likely home to a number of undiscovered plant, insect and possibly amphibian species.His particular research interests in the area include: Wildlife Monitoring & Evaluation Techniques, Spatial Modelling, Fire Ecology, Wildlife Population Dynamics and Plant Ecology.

Matt Mcray

Matt is a Zimbabwean and completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Stellenbosch before obtaining his Masters in Conservation Biology from the University of Cape Town. He currently works as a full-time field researcher in Chizarira National Park. His focus is on an in-depth study of the lion population within the park. The neighboring area has recently experienced significant lion predation on livestock. Having darted and collared a number of lions in the area, these are being tracked and counter measures being sought.

Angela Fergusen

Angela holds an MSC in Conservation Biology from the University of Cape Town. She currently works as a full-time field researcher in the Victoria Falls National Park. Her work currently has a focus on hyena and giraffe populations. She regularly engages with human wildlife conflict related issues and is actively involved with surrounding communities and education programs in local schools.

Customize your program

Our friendly and experienced team will work closely with you to develop your custom faculty-led program from conceptualization to execution. We believe every journey to Africa gives students the opportunity to learn and transform and we pride ourselves in our ability to create unique, sustainable and truly African transformative learning journeys.

Featured Experiences

Boma Restaurant

Meaning “the place of eating,” Boma appeals to the senses with a variety of local dishes including game meat such as kudu, warthog and ostrich. Guests are welcome to take part in traditional drumming and dancing. You even have the opportunity to eat a local delicacy – mopane worms!

Craft Workshop

Enjoy a cultural evening with Zimbabwean musicians, after which the local craftsmen will be available to teach you how to craft beautiful pieces of jewellery and sculptures. This cultural immersion experience will not only teach you new skills, but give you insight into the cultures and traditions of the people of Zimbabwe.

High Tea at Victoria Falls Hotel

Visit the famous Victoria Falls Hotel, renowned for it’s colonial-era architecture. This five-star hotel is only a ten-minute walk from the falls themselves, and was built in 1904 as a key part of the “Cape to Cairo” railroad dream. Today, enjoying a high-tea on the terrace gives you insight into what life was like over a hundred years ago as you gaze at the Victoria Falls Bridge, mist rising from the thundering waterfall.

Tiger Fishing

These ferocious, predatory fish lurk throughout much of the Zambezi, catching prey with their enormous jaws and needle-like teeth. Add a tiger fish to your repertoire during your sports fishing adventure on the Zambezi.

Flight of Angels

Hover through the pounding mist of Victoria Falls as you explore the stunning landscape from the air. A specially designed helicopter, providing panoramic visibility to every passenger, takes you high into the sky to be truly encompassed by the mesmerizing grandeur of the falls.

Victoria Falls

Known as the “smoke that thunders,” Victoria Falls is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The waterfall system is the largest on Earth, about 1.7 kilometers wide and one hundred and eight meters high. Enjoy being awestruck by the sheer magnificence of the falls.

Enquire about this program