Ms Elsa Bussiere

Email: elsa [dot] bussiere [at] yahoo [dot] fr
PhD Thesis: The brown hyaena in South Africa: distribution, abundance, conservation & education



Most of my training has been done in France where the Academic system is fairly different. There is another possibility besides University which is highly competitive and very well recognised in the country.


I have done two years of preparation for the entrance examinations for the French Engineering Colleges; Studied fields: Biology-Mathematics-Chemistry-Physics-Geology  (Paris)

I then integrated one of five competitive-entry agricultural and environmental engineering schools (ENSAIA in Nancy); University-level college for the continuing education of qualified engineers

After the two first years, I did a gap year at the CNRS (National Centre for Scientific Research), based in Hwange National Park (Zimbabwe) UMR CNRS 5558 Laboratoire de Biométrie et Biologie Evolutive. I worked as a scientific and logistics coordinator and had the great chance to be involved in a Mammal capture program (Elephant - Buffalo - Kudu - Impala - Zebra - Hyena).

Back to France, I did my last year at ENSAIA where I particularly focused on regional development and planning. Simultaneously, I started my Master's degree at the University of Nancy about Ecosystem functioning and management. 

I finished in August 2011 my 6 months - Master's degree project in collaboration with the ADU.                                        

This study is part of the Second Southern Bird Atlas Project (SABAP2). It aims to develop a computational tool, precisely an index, to measure the "smoothness" of bird distributions. It will help us assess the smoothness of the habitat-non-specialist species distributions and help us provide an "early warning system" telling us when a species is starting to get into difficulty, and the distribution starts to fragment. Hopefully, this might provide information that could help predict future conservation necessities. The new index will come into its own when SABAP2 has about 10 years of data, and we can compare the “roughness index” through time.



I have been involved in different projects

- Farming in France for 6 weeks

- Research and logistics coordinator in a mammal research project , Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, 1 year                    

Coordinating and monitoring one of the World's largest mammal capture programs (Elephant - Buffalo - Kudu - Impala - Zebra - Spotted Hyena), Road counts, Birdlife protocols (identification, duck captures), impala's vigilance assessment, crop damages assessment (Elephant), camp and staff management. My blog:

- French Nature reserve development project, 6 months

Trade off between commercial uses and conservation necessities

- Assistant in a Roe Deer capture project

Population size and individuals' health assessment (relocation in UE)

- Second Southern Bird Atlas Project (SABAP2)

- Field assistant on Robben Island, to fit African Penguin with loggers  On my blog:

- Ringing in the Cape 


My six-months-master's degree-internship within the Animal Demography Unit has been a rewarding and fulfilling experience and I am thrilled to be part of this diverse research team on continuing with a PhD and conducting research in the field in Southern Africa. 


This PhD study is the result of a collaboration between :

- Professor Leslie Underhill from the Animal Demography Unit, Zoology Department, University of Cape Town. He will be my superviros. 

- Doctor Ingrid Wiesel from the Brown Hyena Research Project, Lüderitz, Namibia. She will be my co-supervisor. She is also a member of the IUCN Hyaena Specialit Group.

- The Tswalu Kalahari Game Reserve


This PhD aims to :