My PhD focused on using techniques from the social sciences, particularly psychology, to understand and overcome human-wildlife conflict issues. In particular, I was interested in understanding how human behaviour shapes and drives conflict over livestock predation in eastern and southern Africa, and the development of applied human behaviour solutions. Over the course of this work, I was involved in projects in Botswana, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. I found that social norms and individuals' perception of their ability to access solutions were major drivers of behaviour. Livestock conflict perceptions and behaviours were consistent across landscapes and between regions, meaning that simple tools can be applied in multiple environments. I was also able to develop applied tools for guiding and developing social interventions, which facilitate behavioural interventions across a range of conservation problems.
Please see Publications.
CHYULU HILLS SOCIAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT
I designed and implemented the 2020 social impact assessment (SIA) for the Chyulu Hills Conservation Trust, in southeast Kenya. The CHCT REDD+ project covers a huge area in the Tsavo landscape, with multiple stakeholders partnering to implement the REDD+ carbon credit framework. I was employed as lead consultant to design the SIA and develop the ongoing framework for social impact across the area. This work required considerable stakeholder engagement, from high-level NGO boards to local community groups. Using various qualitative and quantitative techniques, including focus groups, outreach workshops, structured and unstructured interviews, and participatory mapping approaches, I was able to develop consensus between partners and agree a framework for evaluation. I led a Kenyan team to collect quantitative data from across the area, which was used to synthesize the final report and recommendations.
HWANGE LION PROJECT
I worked with researchers on the Hwange Lion Project/KAZA landscape to analyse human-wildlife conflict data. In particular, I was interested in predator mortality, and how these patterns related to both direct conflict and also the social landscape. I was able to work with a Zimbabwean team to develop and implement a large-scale social survey to understand perceptions, attitudes, and behaviours regarding carnivores and human-carnivore conflict. I also assisted with multiple other lion research projects, including energetics analysis, sound-base behaviour classification, and 'charisma'-based social perceptions research.
I worked with the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme to carry out research into the conflict between Ethiopian wolves and free-ranging feral dogs in Bale Mountains National Park, Ethiopia. This work focussed on spatial ecology and behaviour. Interspecific interactions were typically negative and aggressive, with domestic dogs displacing the smaller wolves. This work formed part of a larger project to understand conflict between wolves and people, particularly with regard to disease vectors.