Do you believe there is a need to protect wildlife across the world? Do you believe, as I do, in actively conserving birds and their ecosystems? How about protecting coastlines? Are you hopeful we can protect our planet? If so, I ask for your support.
My name is Taylyn Risi, and this year I have the exciting opportunity to do my Masters research project (by Dissertation) on oystercatcher moulting under the supervision of Professor Peter Ryan and Emeritus Professor Les Underhill.
About my project
Birds moult each year to replace their old feathers with new. The study of this process is crucial in understanding their life histories and a necessary step towards designing and implementing methods for their conservation. While some of these birds in other parts of the world have stable populations, oystercatchers in Europe are collectively classified as “Vulnerable” and African black oystercatchers are “Near Threatened” in southern Africa. By moving ahead with this project on moult in 2020, we will have a greater understanding of the oystercatchers’ life histories and be closer to the goal of oystercatcher conservation.
My MSc project includes an analysis and comparison of the moult patterns of oystercatchers from different parts of the world. I am required to take photographs of oystercatchers along the coastline of Robben Island, South Africa, as well as to go through photographs taken by citizen scientists along the coastline of southern Africa. I have access to oystercatcher moult data from the Netherlands, New Zealand and China.
This two-year MSc is in Conservation Biology and will be completed through the Percy Fitzpatrick Institute of Ornithology (Fitz) at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. I have the great privilege of being supervised by Prof. Peter Ryan, an internationally renowned ornithologist with a focus on seabird conservation and director of the Fitz, and E. Prof. Les Underhill, statistician and director of the Animal Demography Unit (ADU). As other opportunities for funding have fallen through, I am asking for your help in sponsoring this research to support oystercatcher conservation.
A little about me
I have a strong call to actively engage with other scientists in protecting these birds and their ecosystems. Since the age of four, after an ornithologist visited my Grade R class at St Mary’s School in East Sussex, England, I have been fascinated by birds. Throughout primary school and high school years in Durban, South Africa, my passion for wildlife conservation continued to grow as I volunteered in coastal cleanups and animal studies with my family. Many wonderful experiences in nature have led me to this field of scientific research. I completed a BSc in Life Sciences in Botany and Zoology (with Geography) through the University of South Africa and my Honours in Biological Sciences through the University of Cape Town. It is a great joy to study the science that I love and to do my part in helping this planet.
The oystercatchers along the coastline of southern Africa will be in the process of moult from March–April until around October. I will take photographs of these remarkable birds and send a set of five of the best prints to everyone who supports me with a donation above $335 (R5,000), and a set of two prints to everyone who supports me with a donation above $135 (R2,000).
My funding goal represents my costs required for the first year of my MSc.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read about my project. I will be so grateful for your support.