Zoology’s best receive

The Zoological Society of South Africa has honoured two outstanding students from the NWU’s Zoology subject group for their high standard of academic work.

Geraldine Oosthuizen checks a shark’s organs for parasites at the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board.

Chané Kleynhans works on her research in one of the NWU’s laboratories.



Geraldine Oosthuizen (honours) and Chané Kleynhans (third year), who achieved the best results in their groups in 2019, received the awards, which the Zoological Society of South Africa presents to the best third-year and honours students in zoology at South African universities every year.


Besides the fact that the students’ work has to be of a high standard, they must have leadership qualities, a strong interest in zoology and the intention to choose zoology as a career.


Hooked on marine parasites


Geraldine is currently part of the Water Research Group and her master’s research focuses on cestodes, a parasitic worm that infests elasmobranchii – a group of fish that includes species such as sharks, stingrays and skates.


She says their research looks at species that are unique to South African waters. Her supervisor is Dr Bjoern Schaeffner, who is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Water Research Group. Prof Nico Smit is her co-supervisor.


“I suppose people find it strange that I study marine parasites, as I come from a small inland town and study at a university in the interior, but it just shows you can chase your dreams anywhere in the world.”


She says her passion for animals comes from her childhood, and guided her in the direction of zoology. She hails from Middelburg in Mpumalanga and matriculated at the HTS Middelburg.


A fascination for biodiversity and conservation


Chané is currently working on her honours degree in environmental sciences, focusing on biodiversity and conservation ecology.


“I come from Johannesburg, but have been fascinated by nature since childhood. Even though I grew up in the city, I grabbed every chance I could to get out into nature.


“The passion that my teachers at Linden High School had for their work had a major impact on my choices and I will always be grateful that they guided me in this direction.”


Chané says that she believes it is not enough to be clever – it is hard work that ultimately allows you to achieve success.


She is planning to continue with her master’s in environmental sciences next year, and will then decide whether to continue with research or exchange the academic world for a profession.


Both students will be honorary members of the Zoological Society of South Africa for the next year.