Gus & Margie Mills - dedicated researchers
Researcher | Author | Founder
Although having spent over 40 years conducting researching into Africa’s large carnivores Dr Gus Mills, together with his wife Margie, are probably most well known for their time spent in the Kalagadi living with, and writing about, brown and spotted hyena. For 12 years starting in 1972, and only recently married, Gus and Margie diligently, and often painstakingly, uncovered a treasure trove of fascinating facts about these enigmatic species. They were able to record much that would go towards dispelling the many ill-informed, and widely misunderstood, habits and traits of both brown and spotted hyena. Their work culminated in the publication of Kalahari Hyenas: the comparative behavioural ecology of two species in 1990, and belatedly, the popular Hyena Nights and Kalahari Days in 2010, both of which raised awareness and went a long way to improve the image of hyenas as species to be admired.
The draw of the Kgalagadi would again bring them back in 2006 for a six-year study of the cheetah and they would later go on to publish A Natural History Guide to the Arid Kalahari (including the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park) in 2014.
Outside of his time spent in the Kalagadi Gus studied lion and cheetah feeding ecology, the relationships between the larger carnivores and wild dog population ecology in Kruger National Park. His study on wild dogs in Kruger ran for 15 years and included the supervision of a number of PhD and MSc theses on aspects of lion, cheetah, wild dog, brown hyena, honey badger and African wild cat behaviour and ecology in various areas of Southern Africa.
Gus was the founder of the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Carnivore Conservation Group, has been a senior member of several IUCN Carnivore Specialist Groups, including former chairman of the Hyena Specialist Group, and member of the steering committees of the Cat Specialist Group and the Canid Specialist Group. He has served as a member on several boards of scientific journals and conservation organisations, authored or co-authored over 140 scientific papers, as well as delivered more than 80 talks at conferences and symposia worldwide.
He retired from SANParks as a Research Fellow in 2006 and returned to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa/Botswana to conduct a cheetah study. The aim of the study was to define the ecological role and adaptations of the species to an arid environment, incorporating studies of feeding ecology and energetics, ranging behaviour and habitat use, mating system and reproductive success, demographics and conservation status. The results have been published in a book Kalahari Cheetahs: adaptations to an arid region.
He is now an advocate for the conservation of ecosystem integrity as the pivotal conservation objective and a mentor and supporter of young African conservationists.