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.

Ernst Retief

Data and Spatial Planning Manager

Ernst’s main responsibility is to manage the various bird datasets within BirdLife South Africa and to make them available to the conservation planning sector in South Africa. These tasks include analysing data and converting spatial information into a format that comply with applicable standards. He also supports data collection projects such as the Southern African Bird Atlas Project and BirdLasser. He also supports biodiversity stewardship work in various ways, especially by providing data which support the management of biodiversity stewardship sites.

Shamiso Banda

Data and Spatial Planning Manager

Shamiso’s core responsibilities are to manage and contribute to a database of South Africa’s bird species whose conservation status/extinction risk will be assessed, and to liaise extensively with bird species experts to solicit the information required for the red listing process. She will also play an editorial role in the new Red Data Book of Birds of South Africa, Lesotho and Eswatini and its accompanying popular version.

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