Author Archive Céline Hanzen

Hazel in Sweden !

One of our PhD students, Hazel Govender, just left us for the University of Lund in Sweden. Her adventure started last March with her application for the EUROSA Scholarship – Erasmus Mundus Action 2. She was awarded at the end of April and it’s been a long process!



The Library at Lund University (By Anton Holmquist Soasta – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0)

She will be based at the Centre for Environmental and Climate Research at Lund University.  Her supervisor is Dr Ullrika Sahlin, who specialises in “practical implementation of decision making under uncertainty”.  She will be attending PhD courses in “Risk and Decision making under uncertainty”.  The work schedule includes working on CEC current projects and application of her experience at CEC, to her project.

She arrived in Lund on Wednesday 12th October and went straight into a PhD course on Risk on Thursday and Friday.  In November, she will be attending the Society for Risk Assessment (SRA) Nordic Chapter Meeting in Gӧteborg, where she will do an oral presentation.  This will be a gathering of risk researchers and risk specialists with a multi-disciplinary focus.

Hazel will share her adventures and experiences as many time as possible on this website. We can’t wait to see pictures !



Freshwater Fish Identification Course – Kruger National Park

Two of our lucky PhD students, Céline and Mahomed, had the great opportunity to participate in a 3 day Freshwater Fish ID course in the Kruger National Park : one day of theory and then 2 days of practical work catching fish in the Sabie and Sand rivers. The pratical work also included microscopic examinations of specimens collected in the Scientific Services Lab. Netting (seine and cast nets) and electrofishing were conducted in the Sabie and Sand rivers.

The Sabie River in KNP

The theme of this course was aimed at field collections  – essentially where to look, how to collect,  how to identify using a key, how to collect tissue and DNA samples and photography.  In addition, Paul Skelton (cfr “A complete Guide to the Freshwater Fishes of Southern Africa“) gave a lecture about new species and taxonomy changes for fish in southern Africa.

Below are some of the different species caught during the course

Mahomed releasing a yellowfish in the Sabie

Mahomed releasing a nice looking yellowfish (Labeobarbus marequensis) in the Sabie River

Here’s a video clip of their experience

In the press – “Namibia takes pride in freshwater fisheries resources” by Francois Jacobs

Our team member and PhD. student Francois Jacobs (and representative of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources of Namibia) is involved in one of the largest freshwater fish-tagging programmes in southern Africa.

This tagging programme is a long-term marking and recapture study for target species such as the African tigerfish, Hydrocynus vittatus, Threespot bream, Oreochromis andersonii and Nembwe, Serranochromis robustus. An article aimed at raising public awareness has been published in “Stywe Lyne/Tight Lines” (August 2016).

What if you find a tagged fish !? Please refer to the article, here.

AER Team at Annual SASAqS Conference

Last June, we participated in the annual SASAqS (Southern African Society of Aquatic Scientists) conference at Skukuza in the Kruger National Park.

  • Hazel Govender presented the “Ecological Risk Assessment of the Resource Directed Measures in the uMngeni Catchment” and was the first to represent our team at the conference.
  • Gordon O’Brien chaired the session that focused on Estuarine Ecology.
  • An entire session was dedicated to swimways and fish studies and two of our postgrad student presented their projects.
    • Wesley Evans presented his M.Sc. project titled : “When in doubt or in drought : what to do for the threatened fish populations of KZN
    • Mahomed Desai presented a former project of his titled : “Environmental Water Requirements to maintain the wellbeing of key social and ecological endpoints in the Dinder River, Blue Nile Basin.”
  • Lastly Olekan Agboola and Madonna Vezi presented their respective projects during the Aquatic Invertebrates Session on the “Factors affecting macroinvertebrate communities in KZN lowland rivers” and “The response of invertebrates to changes in water quality and flows in KZN river dominated estuaries”.

We also participated in the “Fish Behavioural Ecology and Swimway Monitoring Methods Workshop” held after the conference and hosted by us.

While being in Kruger, we took the chance to go on game drives and really enjoyed ourselves! Below, a video clip of our game drive adventures.



Fish catches bird in flight !

A population of African tigerfish, Hydrocynus vittatus, from the Schroder Dam, actively prey on barn swallows, Hirundo rustica, in flight. This behaviour was discovered during a radio telemetry study and documented using a motion picture video camera. These results show that an avivorous diet is a part of the feeding biology of H. vittatus, and may occur in other populations.

Read the full article here, published in the Journal of Fish Biology in 2014.

Take a look at the video !

Read the post on Nature Publishing Group website here.


AER in the press – The Independant

In may 2016, Gordon told us about fish migration and their importance for the ecosystems in the Independant.

Here’s the post.

Swimway Programme Workshop at SASAqS 2016

Following the annual SASAqS conference last June, we hosted a fish behavioural ecology and swimway monitoring methods workshop at Skukuza. During this workshop, information and experiences related to local and international telemetry techniques were demonstrated with application considerations.

During this workshop the concept of the South African Swimway Programme was initiated.




Herman from the World Fish Migration Foundation chaired this workshop. François from Wireless Wildlife showed us the latest telemetry technology. He detailed the efficiency of the telemetry devices and their pros and cons for studying fish migration.

A report regarding the outcomes of this workshop is about to be produced and will be posted here as soon as it is available.