Daniel Marnewick

Programme Manager: Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas

Daniel has over 20 years of professional experience and leadership in the conservation sector, predominantly working in South Africa’s foremost conservation NGOs and 13 of which have been with BirdLife South Africa. Daniel’s extensive knowledge and experience exhibit a diversity of skill sets on a range of integrated fields, including: habitat protection and management, spatial planning, stakeholder facilitation, grassroots engagement, community development, strategic conservation planning, integration with national priorities, fundraising, and Multi-lateral Environmental Agreements.

Daniel manages BirdLife South Africa’s Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) Programme which aims to ensure the effective identification and conservation of South Africa’s 112 IBAs. Daniel drives the overall strategic intent of the IBA Programme by directing strategic landscape level projects aimed at protecting, safeguarding and managing priority IBAs. The Programme has primarily used Biodiversity Stewardship to achieve these objectives, and today Daniel and his team are considered implementation and thought leaders in the sector.

Daniel’s current focus is leading the revision and extension of South Africa’s Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) network, and initiating and building the KBA Community in his positions as the African representative and global chair for the KBA Community, a part of the global KBA Programme. Daniel and other colleagues are also testing the first country level identification of Conservation Areas (OECMs), as per their reference in the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aic’i Target 11.


Ernst Retief

Senior Manager: Data and Spatial Planning

Ernst has been a passionate birder since his younger days. This allowed him to contribute data to many citizen science projects and support several conservation programmes on a voluntary basis. Ernst joined BirdLife South Africa in 2011 and he supports various bird conservation projects within the organisation.

Ernst manages all species data at BirdLife, through data collection projects such as BirdLasser and the South African Bird Atlas Project 2 (SABAP2), analysing data through GIS and distributing data to conservation planners and other organisations. He is also responsible for the implementation of the IBA programme in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Free State provinces through Biodiversity Stewardship.


Dr Giselle Murison

Project Manager: Western Cape Estuaries Conservation

Giselle is the Project Manager for the Western Cape Estuaries Conservation Project. Funded by the WWF- Elizabeth Harding Bequest, the project is focused on formal protected area expansion and on improving conservation action at priority estuarine IBAs within the Fynbos. She is based in Cape Town, within reach of the initial project sites identified through the preliminary scoping phase of the project, namely the Berg River, Klein River and Bot-Kleinmond River Estuaries.


Dr Simeon Bezeng Bezeng

Project Manager: Regional Red List and KBA

Bezeng began his career in Cameroon where he was received a BSc in Botany and Environmental Sciences. He then moved to the South African and completed his PhD in plant invasion biology at the University of Johannesburg in 2016.

Bezeng is actively involved in the development of the IUCN’s species and ecosystem red listing and the identification of Key Biodiversity Areas in Africa. He is also a member on the SSC Steering and Red List Committees and the National Red List Alliance.


Steve McKean

Project Manager: KZN Strategic Partnership

Steve McKean is a director of Conservation Outcomes, implementing incentive-based mechanisms for conservation. He has over 26 years’ experience as an ecologist specialising mainly in sustainable resource use, natural resource management, vegetation ecology, protected area management, resource economics and in developing and implementing market-based solutions to conservation challenges. He was one of the initiators of the innovative and successful KZN Biodiversity Stewardship Programme in 2005/06. Steve’s work has involved working with a variety of people in developing sustainable solutions to complex conservation issues. He has focused more recently on developing and facilitating mechanisms for rural people to benefit from sustainable natural resource management. He has written over 58 scientific reports, policy documents, papers, book chapters and articles and presented more than 38 papers at national and international conferences on various aspects of sustainable natural resource use and management. Steve has an MSc in Ecology from the University of the Witwatersrand.

Steve is responsible for expanding the work of the IBA programme in KwaZulu-Natal through working with private and communal land holders to conserve critical bird habitat outside formal Protected Areas, primarily through the KZN Biodiversity Stewardship Programme. Steve, together with partners such as Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife is also coordinating the Blue Swallow monitoring programme in KwaZulu-Natal.

Hiral Naik

Hiral Naik

Admin Assistant: Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) and Policy & Advocacy

Hiral completed her MSc in Ecology, Environment and Conservation from the University of Witwatersrand in 2017, with a focus on evolutionary ecology. As a researcher and a conservationist, Hiral has spent some time working with several environmental non-profit organisations to understand the role of biodiversity in different environments and communicate that knowledge to others. Her skills range from field work, research and communication to marketing, writing and environmental education.

Hiral assists in various administration tasks within the IBA programme including marketing and media, communications, fundraising and database management.