Zunckel Ecological & Environmental Services is a partnership between husband and wife team, Kevan and Karen Zunckel. Collectively we have more than 40 years’ experience in the realms of ecological and environmental management. It is not our intention to expand our partnership. Rather, we work in inter-disciplinary teams of trusted associated professionals.
Kevan has more than twenty years’ experience in the field of conservation and environmental management and holds an MSc Environmental Science from the University of Cape Town. He is a member of the World Conservation Union’s (IUCN) World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) and the South African chapter of the International Association of Impact Assessment (IAIAsa).
His career began in the forestry industry where he was responsible for compiling conservation plans for plantations that were then under the control of the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry. He later joined the erstwhile Transvaal Provincial Directorate of Nature Conservation where he was involved in flora conservation planning before being given the responsibility of heading up the regional ecological services section. It was in this position that he played an influential role in the establishment of the Mpumalanga Parks Board where he was appointed as the head of the R&D division and as such was part of the organisation’s executive structure. During this time Kevan was responsible for compiling and presenting a short course on protected area planning and management at the Southern African Wildlife College from which the principles and processes have become recognised as national best-practice. He also served as the founding Chair of the Ekangala Grassland Trust’s Board of Trustees which sought to establish an inter-provincial grassland biosphere reserve. Although he is no longer involved with the initiative it is still alive and has been absorbed into a greater grassland conservation programme that is being managed by the South African National Biodiversity Institute.
After his time with the Mpumalanga Parks Board Kevan operated as an independent consultant for a short while before being appointed as the South Africa Project Coordinator for the Maloti Drakensberg Transfrontier Project, a position he held for the full 5 years of his contract. For this US$ 7.9 million project, funded by the Global Environment Facility through the World Bank, he had to establishment and manage a multi-disciplinary team of specialists and coordinate their efforts with a myriad of stakeholders both in South Africa and Lesotho. Despite the complexities and dynamics within and between these stakeholders Kevan and his team were able to achieve a huge amount in the time allocated to them. It is noteworthy that the outcome of each supervision mission conducted by the World Bank was that they saw the project progress as being ‘satisfactory’, which is good in World Bank terms.
Kevan then joined Golder Associates Africa as a Senior Consultant in the Sustainable Development Division and has participated in a variety of projects in which he has provided specialist ecological input and/or has acted as project manager. He held this position for two years before resigning to work as an independent consultant in partnership with his wife, Karen.
Karen Zunckel (née Chapman) is qualified as an ecologist (BSc Honours Zoology – University of Natal, BSc Zoology & Entomology and Grassland Science – University of Natal) with 14 years’ experience as an environmental scientist.
Karen’s experience in environmental consulting was inspired from having spent much of her childhood in the African bush (mostly in the hunting concessions of Northern Botswana), and developed subsequently from wildlife management and research, conservation biology and nature and culture-based tourism.
Never missing an opportunity to gain wildlife experience, Karen volunteered to assist in the then Natal Parks Board annual game counts in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park and Eastern Shores of Lake St Lucia during her university vacations (1994 – 1995) and in 1996 she assisted in the black rhino monitoring programme and participated in numerous lion call-ups in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park. She also assisted the Grassland Science Department of the University of Natal doing Veld Condition Assessments in Magudu, Inkwaleni Valley and Cathedral Peak areas during her 2nd and 3rd year vacations.
In January 1997, she took up a Voluntary Research Assistant position at Cape Vidal on a PhD on the reproductive strategies of free ranging Samango Monkeys (Cercopithecus mitis erythrarchus), after which she plunged head first into her career in 1997 with a very challenging 6-month contract trying to find non-lethal methods of controlling four troops of samango monkeys in the recreation areas at Cape Vidal; a partnership between the University of Natal (who had an ongoing ten-year behavioural research project) and the then Natal Parks Board, who were battling with both vervet and samango monkeys’ increasing boldness toward visitors.
She lived and worked for several years in various protected areas in southern Africa conducting field research, tourist guiding, conflict resolution pertaining to the interface between communities and wildlife and worked as Regional Manager for Gametracker’s Savute Elephant Camp in Botswana.
Her experience evolved 11 years ago from nature conservation and tourism towards environmental planning, impact assessment, land-use, water, energy, waste management, pollution control, and biodiversity and ecological assessments. She did an internship in Cape Town in 1999 – 2000 working for Common Ground Consulting where she gained invaluable experience working principally on the Cape Peninsula National Park’s Integrated Environmental Management System, a Global Environment Facility-funded project. She returned to KwaZulu-Natal working as a freelance environmental consultant and was appointed shortly thereafter by an environmental consultancy as an Environmental Scientist and became 2IC to the Ecotourism and Wildlife Management Services and Durban Business Unit Managers. Karen resigned in 2002 to successfully establish her own environmental consulting business, working in association with various other professionals and mentoring a number of up-and-coming consultants for eight years until joined by her husband, Kevan, to form Zunckel Ecological & Environmental Services.
|Click here for his CV on LinkedIn.||Click here for her CV on LinkedIn.|