The Mogalakwena Research Centre Team:

Dr Elbe Coetsee – Director of Mogalakwena Craft Art and Research Centre


In 1994 Elbé Coetsee established the Mogalakwena Craft Art Development Foundation and in 1998 obtained a PhD in Social Entrepreneurship. The University of Pretoria in South Africa awarded her academic honorary colours for this research. She conducts research on contemporary oral culture in the Blouberg area in Limpopo Province and writes extensively on Craft Art in South Africa. Coetsee established the Research Centre for ecology, anthropology and social entrepeneurship in Africa during 2006. In 2008 she launched the Mogalakwena Gallery in Cape Town.

Dr. Ralf Mullers – Research Manager

Email :

Ralf was born in Maastricht, in the south of the Netherlands, but obtained his MSc and PhD in the far north, at the University of Groningen. Albeit not a birder (yet), Ralf did all of his research with birds as a study model. His first projects were in the Dutch Waddensea area, studying the foraging ecology of geese and oystercatchers. For his PhD he collaborated with the University of Cape Town, looking at behavioural mechanisms that underlie the population dynamics of Cape gannets in Namibia and South Africa. After some non-research related adventures, he ended up in the swamps of the Bangweulu Wetlands in Zambia, to study the basic ecology of the enigmatic shoebill for a post-doctoral research project. Ralf wants to contribute to conservation and site management with scientific data that are useful for decision making.

Chris Joubert – Research Centre Operations Manager

Chris was born in Eshowe on the East Coast of South Africa, just inland from Durban (Kwa-Zulu Natal). He completed his National
Diploma in Nature Conservation through Pretoria Technikon in 1997. Chris then gained experience working as a field guide and assistant researcher on private game reserves and worked for the Department of Agriculture and Conservation in Gauteng for 5 years, managing an area at the Suikerbosrand Nature reserve. Simultaneously, he managed a smaller urban reserve called Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve. Chris also gained invaluable international experience working for the Environment and Protected Areas Authority in the United Arab Emirates for 6 years, establishing and managing new protected areas. In this time he also assisted with the annual counts of the endemic Kalba kingfisher, completed environmental impact assessments and managed the largest wild rodent breeding program in the Middle East.

Chris is very practically orientated and has a keen interest in botany and small mammals. Chris furthered his education by completing a Bachelors degree in Nature Conservation through the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in 2016. Chris is dedicated, knowledgeable and resourceful and has committed himself and his future endeavors to wildlife conservation and the research entailed within

Portia Phokela – Research Centre Assistant

Portia Phokela, from the nearby Simson village, became a member of the Research Centre team in June 2010. Portia has taken up the position of Research Assistant, helping with field and laboratory work for different research projects undertaken by the Research Centre. She assists with Cultural Research and Craft Art projects and provides assistance to visiting independent researchers, volunteers and students. Portia participates in birding activities with the Research Centre and is passionate about increasing her knowledge on the variety of species frequenting Mogalakwena Reserves.