Birds & Bats Unlimited



The Birds & Bats Unlimited team offers rapid and intensive surveys with an emphasis on rare, threatened, endemic and collision-prone species.

Our Team

Birds & Bats evolved from a partnership between Marlei, Rob and Stephanie, and they run BBU together with a dynamic team (see Our Dynamic field Team below).

» Find our contact details on the Contact us page.

Marlei Martins

Marlei Martins

Avian Specialist

With a background in animal rehabilitation (avifaunal and terrestrial mammals), Marlei joined Rob in 2010 and led EIA trips into western, eastern and rugged northern Cape sites before jointly launching Birds Unlimited in 2011. An accomplished biologist, Marlei has exceptional organisational skills, is a dedicated conservationist, and a specialist on baboon behaviour. She has decades of experience with seabird rescue and rehabilitation, particularly African Penguins. She was chosen as part of an elite 5-person team to work with oiled Rockhopper Penguins and Endangered Tristan Albatrosses on the remote island of Tristan da Cunha in 2011. She has contributed to several publications on Black Harrier Viability, and on Blade-patterning results at a Hopefield wind farm.

Rob Simmons

Rob Simmons

Avian Specialist

Rob has 30 years research experience in Namibia, South Africa, Angola, Sweden and Papua New Guinea; as well as birding experience throughout Canada and the UK. He holds a position at UCT’s FitzPatrick Institute’s Centre of Excellence as a Research Associate. Formerly employed in the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) as the country's state ornithologist, Rob has worked throughout Namibia as a wetlands biologist and ornithologist on shorebirds, flamingos, terns and its special endemic species. He is the lead author on the Red Data book of Namibia's threatened birds. Rob was schooled in England, Canada and South Africa. He has undertaken specialised collaborative studies with Cambridge, Oxford, Uppsala, Stanford, Edinburgh and Sheffield Universities. He has authored and co-authored 100 papers and 60 popular articles, contributed to nine books or proceedings, and written an Oxford–published book on raptors in 2000. He has 20 years of EIA experience and is on the advisory board for the EWT/Birdlife SA’s Birds and Renewable Energy Specialist Group (BARESG), and was nominated Birdlife South Africa's Species Guardian for the Black Harrier.

Stephanie Dippenaar

Bat Specialist

Stephanie was involved in some of the first bat impact assessments related to wind energy in South Africa. She started her consultancy career in 2011 managing pre- and post construction bat monitoring programmes. She has completed courses in bat analysis software systems and bat handling as well as environmental assessment, veld management and biodiversity, and has the ability to provide an integrated approach to environmental issues. She worked at The University of Limpopo before joining the CSIR’s Environmental Management Services group in 2004. There she was involved in environmental management projects, focusing amongst others, on renewable energy developments. She is involved in management plans for the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre and Elephant Management Plans at Camp Jabulani, Kapama Game Reserve. She teaches a post graduate course in environmental management at the University of Stellenbosch and has been a professional member of the South African Institute for Ecologists and Environmental Scientists since 2002.

Our dynamic field team

Our smart and well-qualified team has years of field experience – and are regularly active at field sites across South Africa and further afield. They are the backbone of BBU and represent a dedicated group of conservation-minded individuals, each bringing a diverse and complementary set of field, statistical and writing skills to this industry. Our team leaders include Dillon Joubert, Eric Herrmann, Campbell Fleming, Sarah Schuman and Jordan Wallace, with regular support from Kayla Webster, Jessleena Suri and Felicity Ellmore.

Team stuck in mud
Team in the snow
Team run
Team relaxing
Team harrier tagging