Join us

Recent activity

Ross Wanless

Ross is a very committed South African who is passionate about birds and conservation, working as the Africa Coordinator for the BirdLife International Marine Programme since 2008. He started his career in biodiversity as a Zoology major at the University of Cape Town (UCT). After graduating he travelled extensively and worked as a teacher, ran a small business and became passionate about birds. In 1997 Ross worked as the first employee in BirdLife International’s new Global Seabird Programme. In 1998 he completed his honours with distinction, and then commenced a master’s degree on Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles, under the late Prof Phil Hockey. He graduated with distinction in 2002, and then worked internationally in invasive species and island restoration projects for a year. In 2003-04 he spent a year at Gough Island in the South Atlantic Ocean doing field work for what was to become his PhD under Prof Peter Ryan. He was awarded a Prestigious Bursary for Doctoral Research by the National Research Foundation, and his degree, completed in 2007, won Best PhD Thesis in the UCT Science Faculty in 2007 and took 3rd place at the international UNEP/CMS annual PhD awards.

Ross maintained his interest and involvement in invasive species management, but also pursued a career in seabird conservation. His career came full circle in 2008 when he was employed by BirdLife South Africa, as the Africa Coordinator for the Marine Programme. He currently supervises two Albatross Task Force Teams (in SA and Namibia), is coordinating the marine Important Bird Areas expansion for Africa and works with multi-lateral tuna management organisations. Ross also runs national seabird conservation initiatives, currently focussed on the African penguin as an umbrella species for driving improved fisheries management and broader marine conservation. Ross is a Research Associate at the DST/NRF Centre of Excellence at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute, UCT, and is an Associate Editor at Ibis, a top-rated international ornithological journal. He is a well published and highly cited author of research papers, with >20 peer reviewed papers already published in international research journals. Ross is also co-editor of the 2014 Red Data Book of Birds in Southern Africa.

Ross Wanless. Creative commons BY-SA.
A chick of the Endangered Atlantic Petrel Pterodroma incerta, which is now endemic to Gough Island in the South Atlantic, and is threatened by predation from invasive house mice

Ross Wanless. Creative commons BY-SA.
Thousands of seabirds gather behind South African demersal trawlers. BirdLife’s Albatross Task Force has shown that bird scaring lines can massively reduce mortality from birds striking the trawl cables