Mr Mendes Paolo Vinte: Natural Resource Management Student

Brief: Recently co-authored a paper with Dr Morgan Hauptfleisch

You co-authored with your lecturer Dr Morgan Hauptfleisch. How did that come about? I met Dr Hauptfleisch in 2014 while attending a block course offered by him at the Namibia University Of Science and Technology (Specific subject called Natural Resource Management or NRM2). I had to do this course in preparation for my postgraduate studies in Natural Resource Management in 2015. At the end of 2014, he posted a research project opportunity to all NRM prospective postgraduate students of which, I applied and got accepted for the project. As a postgraduate student, you are expected to conduct and complete a successful research project in anything related to Natural Resources Management, which is presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the postgraduate degree applied for. After conducting successful field work with Dr Hauptfleisch, we decided not to limit our work to the sole purpose of obtaining a degree, but to work towards getting our research work published through the world renowned scientific journal,the African Journal of Wildlife Research.

Was that your first experience as a published researcher? How did the experience benefit you? This is my very first time that, I worked on something and saw it reaching to the scale of publishing state. I am so delighted and looking forward to our articles in the next issue of the African Journal of Wildlife Research. It has been a great experience, though not easy to pull off. Because it requires dedication, hard work and passion of subject, more especially when reading through loads of literature to find relevant matters pertaining to your topic. I have gained lots of extensive knowledge within this subject from reading all kinds of similar studies done elsewhere in the world. Through this the value of research became more significant to me.

Your research publication entitled Comparing Bioturbating Small Mammal Abundance and Diversity on two Different Land Uses in the Kalahari Sand-veld, Omaheke, Namibia.Tell us more about it and where was it published? The title is a mouth full. What we did is to “determine impacts of wildlife and livestock grazing on ecosystem services and biodiversity in Namibia using bioturbating small mammals as indicators”. In Namibia land degradation is a concern of note. Consequently rangelands which previously used to be economically viable (for wildlife and cattle farming) have become or are becoming redundant with very low economic potential. Therefore understanding and managing threats to wildlife and biodiversity as well as associated ecosystem services is imperative to the future of our rangeland in Namibia.

Below is the abstract from the paper

The study compared densities and diversity of bioturbating small mammals between neighbouring commercial livestock and game farms in the Kalahari thornveld of Namibia’s Omaheke region. It further related differences in small mammal parameters to ecosystem services such as soil moisture and rainfall infiltration. Grids of Sherman traps were baited with standard small mammal attractants in areas of low, medium and high degradation in each farm over four trap nights during the growing season of early 2015. The trapping period yielded 174 successful captures of five species of small mammals. Of these 118 were trapped on the livestock farm, and 56 on the wildlife farm. Of the 5 rodent species captured over the above mentioned period Gerbillurus paeba represented 80% (n=139) thus superbly dominated the overall catch. The other percentage species captured are Gerbilliscus brantsii 13% (n=23), Mus indutus 3% (n=6), Saccostomus campestris 2% (n=4), and the least species trapped was Gerbilliscus leucogaster recording as little as1% (n=2). The results indicated that the livestock farm had a higher density and species richness of bioturbating small mammals compared to the game farm. This suggests that ecosystem services associated with these species would be greater on the livestock farm, leading to better soil moisture infiltration and retention, as well as more effective soil nutrient cycling. Results of ecosystem services experiments are in progress to confirm this. Considering similar habitats and substrate, causes of the differences were attributed to grazing management challenges such as selective and continuous grazing, as commonly experienced in wildlife farms.

This paper is about to be published through the African Journal of Wildlife Research (AJWR). In September, I presented this paper at a Scientific Symposium under the auspices of Southern Africa Wildlife Mangement Association with the theme of “Understanding Managing Treats to Wildlife and Biodiversity”. At the presentation the paper was highly praised by all attendees and was commended worth for publication and we are doing that.

What keeps you going as a student and what inspires you most? I am a fulltime employee at the Ministry of Enviroment and Tourism, even though i am currently on a one year study leave. I joined the Namibian work force in 2009 upon completion of my undergradaute degree, with minimal option of returning to school due to life circumstances. But after sharing some experiences in the job market for a number of years, the need to aquire a higher qualification sprung up. Given the opportunity, I would study up to PhD level, because I believe in the power of knowing and for Namibia to realise vision 2030 in a satifactory manner inclusive of all sectors. Extensive research should be high on the development agenda.

Please give us your take on enhancing research including the number of publications in the new University of Science and Technology? Research is the way to go. As a university this Institution needs to have a well-developed research center and host journals in which student’s work can get published, hence contributing to knowledge. (A good written thesis that is not published is as bad as a poorly written thesis). The Namibia University Of Science and Technology could still rank higher, if the number of publications are increased.

Share with us the challenges you faced while studying, writing the paper and how you overcome it? It is not easy to adjust from the world of work (as an employee) to a student life. This had to happen fast because, I registered my studies on full time basis. I admited that this programme is well packaged and it can keep one busy all year around. This was my busiest year ever, because I had to keep up with my courses and yet work on a meanignfull scientific research project. The remedy to this is nothing but dedication and reduced leisure time.

Success Quote? “The more you read, the more things you will know, the more that you will learn and the more places you will go”(Dr. Seuss).