Dr. Dawn Scott specializes in mammalian predator and prey ecology. She has more than ten years of research experience and expertise in mammal ecology, biodiversity, and behavior. Dawn is currently leading two Earthwatch expeditions in South Africa – one that focuses on rhinos and the other on scavenger species, such as hyenas and jackals.
What inspired you to study rhinos in South Africa?
I’m interested in human-wildlife conflict and how humans and wildlife can coexist. The rhinos are a very good example of that – of how a species is being exploited and how we don’t really value this species within its environment and instead how we value it as a commodity. So what really made this project start to come together is the urgency.
What's your interest in scavengers in South Africa?
Despite their bad reputation, brown hyenas are social mammals that live in tight-knit clans. Members will even help suckle each other's young. Like other carnivores and large scavengers, brown hyenas suffer from shrinking habitats and conflict with humans. Finding a way to live peacefully on land outside of parks may be the only way the fewer than 1,700 brown hyenas in South Africa can survive.