MSc Opportunity: Ecology and epidemiology of African swine fever in Ndumu Game Reserve

MSc Opportunity: Ecology and epidemiology of African swine fever in Ndumu Game Reserve
A researcher in a laboratory
A researcher in a laboratory

Scholarships: African swine fever (ASF) is a highly infectious disease, endemic to Sub‐Saharan Africa. The ASF virus circulates in two cycles; a sylvatic cycle and a domestic cycle.

The sylvatic cycle involves African wild pigs, such warthogs Phacochoerus africanus and bushpigs Potamochoerus larvatus, and endophilic Onrithodoros tampans.

Wild pigs do not display clinical signs of the disease unlike domestic naive pigs, for which the ASF virus has a near 100% mortality rate. Ndumo Game Reserve (NGR) is located within the Swine Fever Control Area of South Africa, on the border with Mozambique in KwaZulu‐Natal Province.

The aim of this study is to assess the potential risk of the presence and maintenance of ASF in Ndumo Game Reserve and the NGR wildlife‐livestock Interface.

Thee is a position for an MSc candidate to execute an exciting Research MSc degree to study the ecology of the potential sylvatic cycle of African swine fever in the NGR. The research is funded and supported by the University of Pretoria and Agricultural Research for Development CIRAD
Research activities will consist on:

  • Census of wild pigs (warthogs and bushpigs) in the NGR
  • Collection of tampans in warthog burrows
  • Analysis of the presence of ASFV in tampans (optional) at ARC‐OVI
  • Implementation of questionnaires among small scale farmers at the interface of NGR

A living stipend of 3000 ZAR/month will be provided during field activities
Basic accommodation is available at the premises of KZN Wildlife in NGR
Vehicle and fuel for field work will be provided by UP
Basic training on line transects census, tampan collection and laboratory analysis of ticks for thepresence of ASFV will be provided to the student.

A degree in veterinary science, biological science, ecology or natural science.
Previous field work experience with wildlife will be an advantage.
Basic knowledge in statistical analysis using R, STATA or another software package
The candidate should be able to spend approximately 4 month/year in NGR.
Applicants should provide their CV as well as a letter of interest to either Prof Ferguson or Dr Etter, below. Deadline:  Friday October 31st 2014.

Prof. Willem Ferguson, CFES, Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria. E‐mail:

Prof. Eric Etter, Epidemiology Unit, Production Animal Studies, Faculty of Veterinary Science,
Onderstepoort. E‐mail:

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