UCT students win top conservation awards

06 October 2008

Two UCT students have excelled at the 2008 UNEP/CMS Thesis Award on Migratory Species Conservation, clinching the first and the third prizes.

Dr Samantha Petersen won the award, which carries a prize of €10 000 (R120 000), and Dr Ross Wanless, who won the Faculty of Science Medal for the best PhD Thesis in 2007, was placed third.

Both are PhD students at the Department of Zoology. About 32 candidates from 18 countries world-wide submitted abstracts of their theses online, but the relevance to the vision and goals of UNEP/CMS to protect and improve the conservation status of migratory animals made Petersen's thesis the to top ranking submission.

Petersen worked closely with fishermen at sea to reduce bycatch of threatened seabirds, turtles and sharks for her thesis, Understanding and Mitigating Vulnerable Bycatch in Southern African Trawl and Longline Fisheries. Wanless conducted research on Impacts of the Introduced House Mouse on the Seabirds of Gough Island, and his thesis also made valuable contributions to the conservation of migratory species, a statement said.

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