09 October 2020 | Story Nonsindiso Qwabe
Agnes Mkotywa
MSc Zoology graduate, Agnes Mkotywa

The love for the scientific study of the behaviour, structure, physiology, classification, and distribution of animals, bit MSc Zoology graduate Agnes Mkotywa during her final year as an undergraduate student on the Qwaqwa Campus.

Mkotywa said this love also led to her discovering that vultures, which are regarded as one of the most endangered bird species, had found a home in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park in Clarens, just 40 km from Phuthaditjhaba. The title of her MSc is: The impact of vulture restaurants on scavenger dynamics in Golden Gate Highlands National Park, South Africa.  She received her qualification during the virtual October graduation ceremony hosted from 6-9 October 2020.

“I truly hope the research will open doors for more research in this regard; research that will have a positive impact on the future of our species, the park, and the people from surrounding areas. A part of my study looked at people’s perceptions about the park. Often, we find that positive perceptions towards anything can, in turn, influence positive reaction and feelings towards that thing. It is important that we take care of or at least behave in a manner that brings no harm to our animals. We have amazing stories to tell through and about this beautiful place.”

Mkotywa said her academic journey was not always a smooth ride. She remembers having to learn how to plait hair in order to make money while waiting for her bursary to pay out during her undergraduate years.

“The journey wasn’t always a smooth ride. I graduated with a BSc degree in Plant Sciences in 2015, and immediately enrolled for my Honours in Zoology. My love for Zoology was greatly influenced by my academic supervisors, Prof Aliza le Roux and Mrs Michelle van As, who both supervised my MSc study. And truly, my time as a postgraduate student was filled with so much adventure and fieldwork, the best time of my life.”

“When I finally submitted my dissertation in November 2019, I still remember every single emotion I experienced. Excitement, gratitude, a sense of worth, all of them,” she said.

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