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Prof Rob Slotow
Prof Rob Slotow profile picture
  • Honorary Professor
  • Genetics, Evolution & Environment
  • Div of Biosciences
  • Faculty of Life Sciences
Professor Rob Slotow is a Full Professor at the University of Kwazulu-Natal in, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, and an Honorary Full Professor in the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at the University College, London.

After his PhD at UC Santa Barbara (1993), and Post-Docs at Tel Aviv and Natal, he was appointed Lecturer at UKZN in Durban in 1996. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer (2000), Associate Professor (2002), and Full Professor (2007). He was appointed Honorary Professor at University College, London from April 2014, renewed in April 2019. His academic leadership includes: Programme Director B.Sc. Biol. Sc. (2002-04); Academic Coordinator, School Biological and Conservation Sciences (2005-08); Deputy Dean, Faculty of Science & Agriculture (2008-09); Deputy Vice Chancellor & Head of College, Agriculture, Engineering, & Science (2010-12); Deputy Vice Chancellor and Head of College of Health Sciences (2012-2017).
Rob received the Vice Chancellor’s Research Award (2000) for outstanding research for staff <40 yrs, was elected a Fellow of the University of Kwazulu-Natal, and a Member of the South African Academy of Sciences.

Rob is currently the co-Chair of the IUCN SSC African Elephant Specialist Group. He served on the SA Ministerial Round Table established to resolve the SA elephant culling debate in 2006-7, and was appointed by the current Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries to serve on the High Level Panel for the Review of existing policies, legislation and practices related to the management and handling, breeding, hunting, trade of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros.

Rob served in the University of Kwazulu-Natal Executive for 8 years, first as the Deputy Vice Chancellor and Head of College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, and then as the DVC and Head of College of Health Sciences. While DVC for Health Sciences, Rob worked closely with the UCL Executive and Wellcome Trust in the forming of the Wellcome Africa Health Research Institute from the merger of the Africa Centre for Population Health Studies and the KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for TB and HIV. AHRI is a joint UCL/UKZN centre, and Rob was a founding Board Member.

Rob is Co-PI on the Wellcome Our Planet Our Health, Sustainable and Healthy Food Systems (SHEFS) project, which is in partnership with CBER/UCL and LSHTM. Through this project, Rob promotes linkages between CBER staff and Post-Docs with UKZN academics and students, including exchange visits and collaborative research.
Research Summary

Rob focuses on applied research that can be translated into practical solutions, and works hard to build capacity in the system, through training of 55 Masters and PhD students, and running many interactive workshops with practitioners in government and industry. His research includes work on conservation of large mammals, land-use planning for environmental sustainability, and environmental contribution to achieving sustainable development goals.

While his training and early research was in bird behavioural ecology, in 1997 he shifted to large mammal conservation. he continued to work in invertebrate conservation and biogeography, and lately in conservation decision-making. His experience in Health has provided opportunities for transdisciplinary research spanning agriculture, environment, poverty and health – which will be a major thrust going forward. He has focused on developing a relevant research programme, which will have strong impact on society, and which draws emerging researchers into developing cross-sectoral translational research that can influence and impact policy and practice for improvement of human wellbeing.

He leads a number large, transdisciplinary projects, including the Durban Research Action Partnership, with Ethekwini Municipality (DRAP), and the Wellcome funded Sustainable and Healthy Food Systems project (SHEFS). DRAP undertakes co-developed, co-implemented work the enhance sustainable environmental decision-making and development decisions in the face of climate change. SHEFS examines the agriculture, environment, poverty and health nexus, focusing on resource poor communities in the rural, per-urban, and informal urban settings around Durban and Pietermaritzburg.

Rob has a long-standing research programme in conservation management, with a focus on elephant, rhino, and large carnivores. He works closely with National Government, the South African National Biodiversity Institute, South African National Parks, Ezemvelo Kwazulu-Natal Wildlife, North West Parks and Tourism Board, and many private landowners, to develop understanding of practical solutions to management challenges for these species. He does action research, studying the consequences of management interventions, including on the wellbeing of these species, to develop management plans that promote achieving objectives, while enhancing the wellbeing and welfare of animals. He translates this understanding into practice through developing management plans for reserves, and facilitating national processes for research and conservation strategies for key species.

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