The Research Team

Botswana Herbivore Research aims to increase our understanding of Botswana's herbivores. Using a multi-discplinary and collaborative approach we are collecting and analysing a wide range of data to improve our understanding of how animals utilise Botswana's vast wilderness areas and what factors are essential for their long-term survival.

Dr Hattie Bartlam-Brooks

Hattie first came to Botswana in 2003, shortly after graduating from the University of Bristol with a 1st class BSc(Hons)in Physiology. With an interest in ecosystem drivers and adaptive physiology she initially worked as a research assistant for Dr. Chris Brooks' project on the Makgadikgadi Research Project before spending time in northern Mozambique working as a researcher for Cabo Del Gado Biodiversity and Tourism on their turtle community conservation project.

In 2005 Hattie returned to Botswana and established Botswana Herbivore Research. Her first project, the Okavango Herbivore Research Project, investigated what factors were determining herbivore populations in the Okavango Delta, with specific reference to the importance of vegetation. Hattie was awarded her PhD on this topic in 2009. In 2008 Hattie established a second project, Okavango-Makgadikgadi Migration Research Project, which investigates the ecology of a unique zebra migration that was discovered during the PhD research.

Hattie continues to be passionate about increasing our understanding of Botswana’s herbivores and using scientific research to identify key areas that need to be protected to ensure their long-term survival.

Recent publications:
Spatial heterogeneity in a dynamic wetland: determinants of herbivore distribution in the Okavango Delta and their relevance to conservation (PhD thesis). pdf
Bartlam-Brooks, H.L.A., Bonyongo, M.C. & Harris, S. (2011) Will reconnecting ecosystems allow long-distance mammal migrations to resume? A case study of a zebra, Equus burchelli, migration in Botswana. Oryx, 45 (2), 210-216.
Bartlam-Brooks, H.L.A., Bonyongo, M.C. & Harris, S. (2013) How landscape scale changes affect ecological processes in conservation areas: external factors influence land use by zebra (Equus burchelli) in the Okavango Delta. Ecology and Evolution, 3 (9), 2795-805. DOI: 10.1002/ece3.676 pdf
Hattie L. A. Bartlam-Brooks, Pieter S. A. Beck, Gil Bohrer and Stephen Harris. (2013) In search of greener pastures: Using satellite images to predict the effects of environmental change on zebra migration. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 118 (4), 1427-1437. DOI: 10.1002/jgrg.20096


Dr Emily Bennitt

Emily completed her undergraduate degree in Zoology at the University of Bristol, UK in 2004. Throughout the program, she volunteered with the Mammal Research Group, studying red foxes, brown hares and hedgehogs. During the summer holidays, she travelled to Costa Rica to work in the rainforest, and to Poland to help with a grey wolf research project. Africa had always held a particular fascination for Emily, so after she completed her undergraduate degree, she secured a position at the Kalahari Meerkat Project, South Africa. After spending a year there, she returned to the UK to work as a veterinary nurse for a year, but she knew that she needed to get back to Africa. Emily’s PhD on African buffalo with the University of Bristol began in 2007, after a preliminary three month trip to the Okavango Delta to assist Dr Hattie Bartlam-Brooks with her research. For the next three years, she lived in the Santawani area and covered 5,000 km2, following herds of buffalo around the Delta and sampling the vegetation in sites that they used. It was a great privilege for her to be able to drive into stunning areas that few other humans are allowed to access, and it cemented the knowledge that Botswana was her home. She had to return to the UK to write up her thesis, and struggled through the two years before she could leave the country again. She spent 10 months in Limpopo, South Africa, managing a project on dwarf mongoose, but in January 2014, Emily finally managed to return to Botswana, managing the Elephants for Africa study in the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park. However, she really wanted to focus on ungulates, so she was delighted to be offered the opportunity in August 2014 to carry out research on large herbivores through the University of Botswana’s Okavango Research Institute.

Recent publications:
The Ecology of African buffalo in the Okavango Delta pdf
Bennitt et al (2014) Habitat selection by African buffalo in the Okavango Delta in response to landscape-level fluctuations in water availability in two temporal scales. PLoS ONE 9 (7) e101346. pdf


Mpho Saleshando

Mpho Saleshando grew up in Maun, Botswana. He has worked for the project since 2006, working as a field assistant.