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Prof Francois Durand

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Prof Francois Durand
Department of Zoology - Academic
Associate Professor

Contact Details
D3 Lab 220
+27 (0) 11 559 2456


  • BSc Botany & Zoology (RAU)
  • BSc Hons Zoology (WITS)
  • PhD Palaeontology (WITS)
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Museology (UP)
  • HED (RAU)


  • ZOO 2B20 Vertebrates: Comparative morphology, function and evolution
  • ZOO 0017 Honours - Laboratory & field skills: Map reading and orientation
  • ZOO 0097 Honours Biodiversity - Mammalogy
  • ZOO 0147 Honours Biodiversity - Small vertebrates (Herpetology & Ornithology)
  • GLG 0017 Honours Geology - Palaeontology


  • 1988 - 1997: Palaeontologist at the Council for Geoscience
  • 1998 - 2005: Lecturer in Zoology and Palaeontology at RAU
  • 1996 - 1999: Council Member of the Foundation of Education Science & Technology
  • 2005 - present: Senior lecturer in Zoology and Palaeontology at UJ


Humans have an impact on their environment, and by implication human actions have a direct or indirect effect on the fauna.  In order to minimise this impact, which is mostly negative; we have to study human/animal relationships and design management plans that would promote survival of viable animal populations and general biodiversity.

My postgraduate students, associates and I are currently investigating three topics:

  • The study of the impact of mine effluent on the ecology: The decantation of acid mine drainage (AMD) from abandoned mines on the West Rand is a matter of great concern.  AMD emanating from the gold mines on the Witwatersrand, contains high quantities of heavy metals, including radioactive elements such as Uranium, Thorium and Radium.  The water has a high sulphate content and an extremely low pH ranging between 2 and 3.  AMD threatens aquatic life, both in surface and groundwater bodies.
  • The study of cave ecology: This involves the study of bat and amphipod populations inhabiting the caves in South Africa.  People visiting caves for caving, tourism, education and research may have a negative impact on these populations.  It is essential that the distribution, genetics, behaviour, reproduction and feeding of these animals be studied extensively to enable us to make suggestions about the human use of their habitat.
  • The origin of mammals and the environment in which they originated. 

Post-graduate Students

PhD students

Simone van Tonder (PhD Biodiversity and Conservation, Department of Zoology): Geographical distribution and taxonomic revision of stygobitic amphipods within Gauteng.

Werner Marais (PhD Biodiversity and Conservation, Department of Zoology): The feeding and roosting behaviour of Miniopterus schreibersii in Gauteng.

Marike Fourie (PhD - Department Geography, Environmental Management and Energy Studies) Potential threats to archaeological and palaeontological resources posed by ineffective environmental management of mining developments as illustrated on the West Rand, Gauteng.


Msc students

Estherna Pretorius (MSc Biodiversity and Conservation, Department of Zoology): Determining the diversity of nocturnal flying insects on the grassland in the Krugersdorp Game Reserve.

Neal Neervoort (MSc Biodiversity and Conservation, Department of Zoology): The effect of mine effluent on the mammalian digestive system.

Kate McEwan (MSc Biodiversity and Conservation, Department of Zoology): The effect of artificial lights on foraging behaviour of Miniopterus schreibersii in Gauteng.

Günther Müller (MSc Biodiversity and Conservation, Department of Zoology): The accumulation of heavy metals associated with acid mine drainage in select aquatic insect species in the Krugersdorp Nature Reserve.

Simone van Tonder (MSc Environmental Management): The effect of mine effluent on stygobitic amphipods.

Monika Moir (MSc Biodiversity & Conservation). Site selection guidelines for wind energy facility development in South Africa based on Egyptian free-tailed bat (Tadarida aegyptiace) and cape serotine bat (Neoromicia capensis) foraging activity.



VAN EEDEN, E., LIEFERINK, M. & DURAND, J.F. 2009. Legal issues concerning mine closure and social responsibility on the West Rand. TD: The Journal for Interdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa 5(1):51-71.

DURAND, J.F. 2009. The courage to face empirical reality: a biological perspective. In: C.W. du Toit (Editor), The evolutionary roots of religion – cultivate, mutate or eliminate? South African Science and Religion Forum (SASRF) series, 13: 53-81.

DURAND, J.F. 2008. Die karst-ekologie van Suid-Afrika met spesiale verwysing na die Wieg van die Mensdom Wêrelderfenisgebied. Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Natuurwetenskap en Tegnologie 24(4)5-15.

DURAND, J.F. 2007. Challenges associated with living in karst environments such as the historical Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. New Contree 54, 75-98.

DURAND, J.F. 2006. Die herkoms van die mens en religie, In: F. Swanepoel (Ed.), ‘n Groot misterie - Om vandag oor goddelikheid te praat (ISBN 1086888-430-9), pp.12-27.

DURAND, J.F. 2005. Major African contributions to Palaeozoic and Mesozoic vertebrate palaeontology, Journal for African Earth Sciences, 43(1-3):53-82.

DURAND, J.F. 2004. Die ontdekking van ‘n voorwerp naby Mapungubwe wat moontlik as ‘n abakus gebruik is. Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Natuurwetenskap en Tegnologie. 23(3):46-51.

DURAND, J.F. 2003. The influence of religion and politics on the teaching of evolution in South Africa.”, Ekklesiastikos Pharos, 2003, New Series 13, Volume 85 (1&2), pp. 203-223.

DURAND, J.F. 2001. The oldest baby dinosaurs from Africa. Journal for African Earth Sciences, 33(3-4):597-603. 

THACKERAY, J.F., DURAND, J.F. & MEYER, L. 1998. Morphometric analysis of South African therapsids attributed to Lystrosaurus murrayi (Huxley, 1859) and L. declivis (Owen, 860): probabilities of conspecificity.  Transvaal Museum Annals, 36(29):413-420.

DURAND, F. 1996.  First vertebrate fossil discovery in the Kruger National Park.  Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Wetenskap, 92(7):302.

MAIER, W., VAN DEN HEEVER, J. & DURAND, J.F. 1996. New therapsid specimens and the origin of the secondary hard and soft palate of mammals. J. Zoo. Syst. Evol. Research, 34:9-19.

DURAND, J.F. 1995. Evolution and Fundamentalism, In: C.W.du Toit (Editor), Nature, God and Humanity, Proceedings of the third seminar of the South African Science and Religion Forum, University of South Africa, Pretoria, pp.244-258.

DURAND, J.F. 1991.  A revised description of the skull of Moschorhinus (THERAPSIDA, THEROCEPHALIA), Annale van die Suid-Afikaanse Museum, 99(11): 381-413.​