Dr Fortunate Phaka

Dr Fortunate Phaka
Dr Fortunate Phaka

Research Interests:

Frogs, reptiles, and their related cultural practices in South Africa.

Position: Postdoctoral research fellow: South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity; Postdoctoral research fellow: North-West University; Guest collaborator: Hasselt University

Doctor Fortunate Mafeta Phaka joined NRF-SAIAB in 2022 as a postdoctoral researcher. Their research focus is on South Africa’s frog and reptile diversity and its complex relationship with the country’s nature-based cultural traditions. Outcomes of this research can inform science-based conservation planning and social inclusion.

Improving our understanding of these interactions updates our understanding of how people use wildlife within their cultural practices and subsequently informs conservation planning for both biodiversity and the knowledge contained in those cultural practices. Although frogs and reptiles feature frequently in South Africa’s nature-based cultural traditions, they are an understudied group of animals. Using a combination of methods from both natural and social sciences, Dr Phaka’s research shows that practices can be either protective or harmful to frog and reptile diversity, while there are some nature-based cultural practices that have no impact on the study animals. In addition to informing conservation and social inclusion policy, the research is also helping to improve communication of herpetology to non-specialists.



Institution and location


BSc. Environmental Management

University of South Africa


BSc. (Hons) Environmental Science

North-West University, Potchefstroom


MSc. (cum laude) Biology

North-West University, Potchefstroom


Joint PhD: Environmental Sciences (North-West University) and Biology (Hasselt University)

North-West University, Potchefstroom and Hasselt University/Belgium



Google Scholar Profile



Twitter: @Green_Darkie