Meet the team

Science and Innovation Programme

Left to right: Ernst Retief, Hanneline Smit-Robinson, Alan Lee, Ester van der Westhuizen-Coetzer (from Ekapa Minerals).

Alan Lee

Science and Innovation Programme Manager

Alan is the organisation’s main Data Scientist, responsible for providing scientific input into ecological monitoring and research on priority threatened species and habitats. Alan’s main focus is on the red listing process to be undertaken by the programme over the next several years, targeting all of South Africa’s bird species, including Lesotho and Eswatini. Specifically, this means directing research that answers the following questions: What the extent of occurrence and what areas within that does a species occupy? How many are there? How has the population changed? Why is the population changing? How will the population change in the future, especially given concerns regarding climate change? Alan also has a strong community upliftment focus with a ringing training program based out of Uniondale and he facilitates the Bird Names in African Language working group. He is Editor-in-Chief of Ostrich (Journal of African Ornithology), and sits on a variety of working groups and committees.

Dr David Ehlers Smith

Science and Spatial Planning Manager

David’s position bridges the gap between detailed scientific data and effective conservation action. The role includes supporting the Southern African Bird Atlas Project 2 and the BirdLasser project, maintaining and developing BirdLife South Africa’s conservation data repository, the checklist of South Africa’s birds, and contributing to the Red Listing process. In addition, Dave provides scientific support across BirdLife South Africa’s programmes. Dave conducted his PhD in the jungles of Indonesian Borneo, has over 16 years’ experience in ecological and academic research, and is a passionate conservation ecologist and avid birder

Shamiso Banda

Birds on the Brink Co-Editor

Shamiso is a conservationist and researcher with a passion for storytelling. Her main role is as Co-Editor of the upcoming Birds on the Brink book. The book aims to raise threatened species awareness and illuminate the human element of bird conservation by sharing stories from a wide range of perspectives and experiences. A bit of red-listing work is included, as this book can be thought of as the contemporary version of the Regional Red Data Book.

Sanjo Rose

Red Data Book Content and Data Specialist

Sanjo holds an MSc from the FitzPatrick Institute in ornithology and ecology. She has had a varied career thus far but spent the last 7 years working on bird-related citizen science projects at UCT. She has a keen interest in conservation biology, ecology, ethology and ornithology. She is part of the Red Data Book team. She coordinates contributors, while also editing and contributing assessments to the updated Red Data Book.

The Science and Innovation Programme is supported by Ekapa Minerals, Afrit and Italtiles