Most of today's conservation issues arise from human behaviour - from bushmeat use to livestock predation, how people behave is the fundamental root of most conservation problems. Although I have a background in traditional ecology and animal behaviour, today my work focuses mainly on human behaviour, and using social and psychological interventions to create applied conservation solutions. I use tools from across the social sciences, with a particular focus on social psychology, to design and implement evidence-based approaches to promote conservation-friendly human behaviour. I consult on social science work and research design for projects across Africa, and am currently the in-house conservation and communities scientist for Luwire Wildlife Conservancy, in Niassa, Mozambique. I am also a research associate with Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, and work with them to carry out cutting-edge, applied conservation research.
I studied Zoology at Oxford University, with a particular focus on conservation, animal behaviour, and ecology. Through Oxford's WildCRU, which specialises in applied conservation, I was able to work on a variety of conservation and research projects around the world throughout my undergraduate degree, including clouded leopards in southeast Asia, hedgehogs in the UK, and land use planning across Africa. Following my degree, I worked for a year as a WildCRU assistant on the Hwange Lion Project/KAZA landscape, whilst designing my PhD research project.
My doctorate focussed on the evidence-based design of conservation interventions. Specifically, I was interested in human-predator conflict surrounding livestock predation, and the design of simple tools to allow researchers to understand the social characteristics of local human populations. Although most PhDs focus on one or two study sites, I specifically wanted to do a wide, cross-comparison study, in order to identify patterns at a landscape or international scale. Over the course of my research, I carried out work in Kenya, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. In the final year of my research, I also worked as a consultant on a REDD+ project in southern Kenya, designing and implementing the social impact assessment across the landscape.
I completed my PhD in late 2020, by which time I was living and working in the Niassa Special Reserve, in northern Mozambique. My work for the Luwire Wildlife Conservancy includes the design and implementation of both biodiversity and social research, and ongoing community program management. Through the research work, we aim to grow into a research centre for conservation excellence, and have partnered with WildCRU to help develop this program under my leadership. I also run the Luwire community programs. Although this work is also in the early stages, this work is critical to elevate and create benefits for people and communities living in the reserve.
I am very grateful for the funding and support granted to me by various organisations, including National Geographic, WWF, the Rufford Foundation, Explorer's Foundation, and various private philanthropists.