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Professor Russell Hill


Professor in the Department of Anthropology


My main research interests are in the behavioural ecology of primates and other large mammals and in particular in understanding how animals respond to the risk of predation. I run the Primate & Predator Project based at the Endangered Wildlife Trust's Medike Nature Reserve in the Soutpansberg Mountains, South Africa, with a sister site at the Alldays Wildlife and Communities Research Centre. I have previously managed other projects in South Africa based at De Hoop Nature Reserve and in the Kruger National Park. My postgraduate students have conducted projects across southern Africa, and increasingly our work is examining mammalian conservation and human-wildlife interactions from an interdiscplinary perspective. I also have interests in applying evolutionary principles to explore a number of different aspects of human behaviour, particularly in understanding the role of the colour red in human competitive interactions.

I am interested in supervising students in any of my research interests, including primate behaviour and ecology, predator-prey interactions and interdisciplinary approaches to conservation and human-wildlife conflict.

Primate & Predator Project

Protected areas are the cornerstone of local, regional, and global strategies for biodiversity conservation. As human populations continue to rise and human activities convert and degrade lowland habitats, mountainous regions are increasingly important to species conservation. Mountainous areas are often noted for high concentrations of endemic species of animals and plants, and thus represent an important focus for conservation research. Our study aims to understand the ecology of species living in a biodiversity hotspot in the mountains of South Africa and examines the threat of human activity to species conservation.

Our project is based in the Medike Nature Reserve within the Soutpansberg Mountain Range, an area recognized nationally as a centre of endemism and biodiversity. The mountains fall within the Vhembe UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and form part of the North-Eastern Escarpment Bio-region, an area highlighted by the South African National Biodiversity Institute as a priority for conservation research. Our study is addressing this need and we work in close collaboration with the Endangered Wildlife Trust.

Research interests

  • Primate Behaviour and Ecology
  • Predator-Prey Interactions
  • Felid Behaviour and Ecology
  • Conservation and Human-Wildlife Conflict


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Supervision students