Dr Heleen Druce

Research Coordinator

As a young girl, we spent many holidays on my grandfather’s farm in Namibia. This was where I realised my passion for animals, nature, outdoors and adventure. During my youth, I hand-raised many injured and/or orphaned animals (most with success) including baby birds kicked out of the nest, mice and even a barn owl chick, and then released them back into the wild. During school holidays, I often volunteered at wildlife rehabilitation centres, such as SANCCOB, where oiled penguins and other seabirds are rehabilitated.

Growing older, I got more passionate about wildlife conservation. After I completed High School in Cape Town, I decided to study Nature Conservation at Cape Technikon (now called Cape Town University of Technology). This was the start of living my dream of working in the African bush. After completing my degree in Nature Conservation, I undertook further studies and completed my PhD in Ecological and Conservation Science at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.

Over the past two decades, I have had the opportunity to live and work in different conservation areas of South Africa, including governmental, provincial and privately owned game reserves. I have gained a wide variety of experience ranging from the field monitoring of numerous priority species, filling different research and data capturing roles, assisting with field data collection for various scientific studies and assisting with developing of management plans and monitoring protocols. All of this work was always undertaken to either provide vital management information or to support proactive decision-making with conservation focused outcomes.

I am currently in the fortunate position of living in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, Zululand and being the mom of two young kids. I hope that the early exposure of living in the African bush, will instil a passion for wildlife conservation and respect for nature in our kids. When the opportunity arose to work part-time for Wildlife ACT to facilitate their student program, it was an easy decision to accept the incredible opportunity to coordinate research student projects with an applied scientific focus on conservation, while being a part of the passionate team of Wildlife ACT conservationists.