Meet the Team

Landscape Conservation Programme

Ernst Retief

Landscape Conservation Programme Manager

Ernst’s main responsibility is to support the staff within the Landscape Conservation Programme. The focus of the programme is the implementation of biodiversity stewardship projects in South Africa. Ernst is a keen birder and supporter of citizen science projects, such as the Southern African Bird Atlas Project. He has been working at BirdLife South Africa for more than 13 years. During this time, he co-authored the revised Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas Directory and supported the declaration of the new Key Biodiversity Areas network. He is passionate about Geographic Information Systems and using spatial tools to inform conservation planning. Ernst has a MSc in the social sciences.  


Dr Giselle Murison

Western Cape Estuaries Conservation Project Manager
As the Project Manager for BirdLife South Africa’s Western Cape Estuaries Conservation Project, Giselle is responsible for facilitating improved protection and appropriate management of priority estuaries within IBAs in the Western Cape, in partnership with government organisations, other NPOs and local stakeholders. This includes relevant policy input and support, and the initiation, implementation and support of conservation initiatives to benefit estuarine ecosystem health, including habitat management and rehabilitation projects, such as alien clearing, saltmarsh restoration and fynbos management, environmental awareness and education, and scientific research and monitoring in key estuarine IBAs.

Carina Pienaar 

Ingula Project Manager 

As Ingula Project Manager, Carina is primarily tasked with monitoring the avian populations on the newly declared Ingula Nature Reserve. This includes habitat management for three habitat types on-site (grasslands, escarpment forests, and wetlands), monitoring breeding populations of several threatened species, monthly avifaunal surveys, implementing and updating Species Action Plans, and managing the national Southern Bald Ibis database. She is also assisting in the Wilge Stewardship Initiative, aimed at declaring the Greater Wilge catchment surrounding the upper site of Ingula as a Protected Environment. In doing so, this will add value to the protection of South Africa’s highly threatened grasslands.

Steve McKean

Director of Conservation Outcomes

Steve McKean is a director of Conservation Outcomes, implementing incentive-based mechanisms for conservation. He has over 28 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 2005/6. 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. Steve is currently leading processes to secure 9 new Protected Areas in KwaZulu-Natal and coordinates post declaration support to over 20 areas already secured. He has written over 58 scientific reports, policy documents, papers, book chapters and articles and presented more than 39 papers at national and international conferences on various aspects of conservation, sustainable natural resource use and management. Steve has an MSc in Ecology from the University of the Witwatersrand and is a registered professional natural scientist.

Through the partnership between BirdLife SA and Conservation Outcomes, Steve is responsible for expanding the work of the Landscape Conservation Programme in KwaZulu-Natal. Steve is 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.

Dr Kyle Lloyd

Rockjumper Fellow of White-winged Flufftail Conservation

Kyle oversees the research and conservation of the Critically Endangered White-winged Flufftail (WwF). The WwF serves as a flagship species for safeguarding South Africa’s peat-based wetlands that are inhabited by a diversity of unique animals and plants. Kyle’s responsibilities are broadly divided into (1) conducting research on WwF population dynamics, breeding biology and movement patterns; and (2) protecting WwF habitat by engaging with local landowners, improving habitat quality and identifying potential threats which can be mitigated through effective conservation measures.


Steven Segang

Ingula Project Assistant

Steven is primarily tasked at conducting avifaunal surveys, guiding of visitors, and assisting with environmental awareness and education at the Ingula Nature Reserve. Steven is well qualified, holding various certificates such as a Tourist Guide Certificate from Unisa and a Community Based Natural Resource Management Certificate from the Southern African Wildlife College. Steven is passionate about bird watching.


Programme Interns

Valery Phakoago

Landscape Conservation Intern

Valery Phakoago holds an MSc in Environmental Sciences from the University of Venda, where she studied geophagic practices (consumption of earthly materials) in Sekhukhune area. Currently, Valery is in her final stages of submitting her PhD in Wildlife Conservation Physiology, at the University of the Witwatersrand, working on the ecology of aardvarks and Temminck’s pangolins in the Kalahari. Valery joined BirdLife South Africa as the 2023-2024 Landscape Conservation Intern and is responsible for assisting the Landscape Conservation Programme Manager with administrative duties including report writing, taking minutes, social media and website updates. At some point during her internship, she will assist in fieldwork and also be involved in coordinating upcoming events such a the Learn About Birds (LAB) Conference.

Marlize Muller

Conservation Biology Intern

Marlize Muller is the Conservation Biology intern under the leadership of Dr Kyle Lloyd. This internship forms part of SANBI’s Groen Sebenza Phase II Programme aiming to develop the competence and confidence of graduates in the management of biodiversity. Marlize will be primarily assisting Dr Lloyd with data processing and analysis, which forms part of a larger project to conserve the Critically Endangered White-winged Flufftail and its wetlands. Marlize is also finalising her PhD in grassland ecology which stemmed from a love of nature growing up on nature reserves.

Kyle Lloyd
Profile VP
Marlize Muller