Research Projects

We conduct our own research, surveys and assessments to contribute to a better understanding of the system and contribute to data basis of national and international importance. We also encourage registered studies through recognized universities with an aim for Open Access publication of data and reports and support projects of relevance within our region.

Research is a critical tool in helping us understand the environment. It allows us to know what species exist and how they interact with each other. It allows us to monitor and assess threats to the system, implement mitigations, measure successes, and make better management decisions. Furthering science allows the next generation to build on what was done before.

University Studies

We conduct studies in partnership with universities, community leaderships and reserves. This is to answer pressing questions that can allow us all to make better informed decisions. We host and guide the students along with their supervisors and ensuring the operate in a safe and conducive environment. 

  • “Assessing the communication between Protected Areas and Communities in uMkhanyakude
    District of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa”, Master of Social Science in Human Security at Aarhus University, Denmark, submitted 2022.



Regional Species List

We maintain a regional species list and regularly add new records. Species lists allows us to understand the levels of biodiversity of a given area, allows us to apply for better protection status due to high endemism, special records, and unique biodiversity markers. By knowing what is here we can also easily see what is new and where their are issues due to changes in species, abundance, and distribution across the landscape.

Our regional species list (for immediate properties to our base) currently has 1808 species recorded and growing. This includes 5 critically endangered, 18 endangered, 28 vulnerable, and 28 near-threatened species. There are 107 endemics or near endemics, and 15 are CITES listed. A further 9 are protected species and 1 a critically rare species. We have only just begun to scratch the surface of what is here.

Species Descriptions and New Distributions

Through research we are able to record new distribution records and even discover and describe new species. We are currently investigating the potential of a new species of baboon spider (African tarantula) and a new praying mantis. Our full time entomologist Barbara recently described a new species of button spider (or widow spider/red back/ katipo), Latrodectus umbukwane, which is thus far unique to pristine Sand Forest and is the largest button spider in the world. It also produces a large bright blue egg sac which is unusual in the natural world.

Latrodectus umbukwane or the Phinda button/widow (Hrodulf Steenkampf)

Other recent descriptions in the area include a new species of rain frog (Breviceps carruthersi), a new tree, and there are multiple new plants species currently being described and investigated. 

The praying mantis species, Oxyelaea sp., is currently being investigated and is the first record of this entire genus being found in southern Africa.


Video footage of Oxyelaea sp., one of the Lichen Mantids, the species yet to be determined although possibly Oxyelaea elegans

More recently, the second confirmed record ever in South Africa of the ant species Discothyrea oculata was made and is a new distribution record for the entire province.

Discothyrea oculata. Photo by California Academy of Sciences (Will Erickson)

Surveys and Assessments

Surveys and Assessments across the various Kingdoms gathers data that feeds into the species lists, and informs the potential of new species and distributions. It further gives base line data that can be used to monitor populations and indicator species for any changes to the environment which could be a threat.

Surveys and Assessments:

Continuous Surveys

  • General Entomology Survey 
  • General Spider Survey 
  • General Scorpion Survey 
  • General Plant and Fungi Survey 
  • General Mammal Survey
  • General Bird Survey
  • General Reptile and Amphibian Survey
Rapid Surveys
  • Rapid Bat Survey (completed)
  • Rapid Regional Ant Survey (completed)
  • Rapid Spider Survey (completed)
  • Rapid Plant Survey (completed)
Pilot Surveys
  • Regional Water Quality Survey (pilot completed)
  • Regional Air Quality Survey (pilot)
Planned Surveys
  • Comprehensive Regional Bat Survey (planned)
  • Comprehensive Regional Ant Survey (planned)
  • Regional Ground Dwelling Spider Survey (planned)
  • Regional Fish Survey (planned)
  • Soil Survey (planned)

Greater Limpopo Lion Project

Ubuntu Wildlife Trust supported the Greater Limpopo Lion Project in Mozambique. There were approximately 100 free-roaming wild lions in the Mozambique component of the Greater Limpopo Lion Conservation Unit at the time of the project, with sufficient prey to support more than 300 hundred lions.


The objectives were to determine the space used by lion prides through GPS tracking and use these data to:

  1. target snare removal, poisoned carcass removal and conflict mitigation from identified lion home-ranges,
  2. target snare removal in key potential lion habitat to facilitate the natural re-colonization of lions, and
  3. implement a targeted monitoring program (using camera trapping) of lion status and poaching trends to enable adaptive conservation management of the region’s wild lion population.

We provided the project with:

  • A DanInject Dart gun with DanInject barrel and a second PneuDart barrel 
  • Hard carry case
  • Red dot scope
  • Specialised batteries
  • 43 Pneudarts
  • 5 Practice darts
  • 6 CO2 gas cylinders
  • 2 Lion stretchers
  • Funding to cover logistics of Fuel, Food, and Accommodation for the duration of the project.

Small Mammal Project

Ubuntu Wildlife Trust recieved 137 small mammal traps for the use in small mammal research. These Tomahawk and Sherman traps are ethical live traps of varying size and able to trap mammals ranging from a caracal down to the smallest mouse. Any animal cuaght can then be released immediatly back into the environment or moved to a new area if necessary.

We did not have any planned small mammals projects, so we decided to provide these traps to other organisations who were conducting permitted conservation work.

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