UFH Master of Science student awarded Hungarian Government’s most prestigious higher education scholarship

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Thabang Motaung, a University of Fort Hare (UFH) final-year Master of Science in Zoology student will be jetting off to Hungary, Europe, in September after he was awarded the Hungarian Government’s most prestigious higher education scholarship – the Stipendium Hungaricum.

The four-semester-long programme offers a wide range of courses for achieving international students with an excellent academic track record.

Motaung whose research interests are on gender in agriculture, communal farming and human-wildlife conflict, was selected to complete a Masters Degree in Animal Husbandry Engineering programme at the University of Debrecen.

Born and bred in QwaQwa in the eastern Free State, Motaung grew up amongst communal livestock farmers, an environment that cultivated his passion for livestock farming and ecology.

Armed with bachelor’s degree in animal production management and an honors degree in wildlife management from the University of the Free State, he was accepted for his masters at UFH after his proposed dissertation idea was approved.

“My supervisor, Dr Graig Tambling (Senior Lecturer and HoD Zoology and Entomology) saw potential in my proposal and assisted me to get support from Govan Mbeki Research & Development Centre,” he said.

Motaung is currently involved in a communal wool farmers' predation research project. Through his study, he aims to address the challenges that communal sheep farmers face with predators that affect their livelihood. Moreover, this research also aims to address biodiversity conservation in the context of sustainable agriculture.

“The current predation mitigation strategies are aimed at addressing predation problems at commercial farms and not practical in communal setup. This study provides insight on the relative abundance of jackals that exist within these communal farming areas and some of the drivers of the abundance.”

“The result of the work is to be fed back into the communities through outreach. The data from the jackal relative abundance in the areas will also be communicated with the relevant stakeholders. The human wild conflict can only be properly addressed when we know the attitude and the coping mechanism of farmers,” he emphasized.

Motaung says he learned about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity through the University’s Daily Bulletin.

“This will be my first time in Europe, and I am excited. It has always been my dream to study abroad, and the University of Fort Hare helped me to realize this dream.”

“During my stay, I hope to collaborate with other scholars and learn new paradigms in my areas of interest to extend on the human-wildlife discourse. I am also hoping to get insights on how my results from the study in South Africa compare to international standards. My selection showcases that Fort Hare qualifications and research are of international standard.”

In the words of our Vice-Chancellor Prof Sakhela Buhlungu: “A Fort Hare qualification can take you anywhere in the World.”