I’m an interdisciplinary conservation scientist specialised in human-wildlife conflict and coexistence for the past 20 years. I have worked at all levels, from grassroots community-based fieldwork to inter-governmental policy. I have worked with farmers in India and cattle ranchers in Brazil, led research in Nepal and Bolivia, and taught conflict mediation in Bhutan and Tanzania. I am a practitioner, a researcher, an advisor, and a mediator. My aim is to understand, facilitate and convene collective experiences, insights and knowledge about conflicts with and about wildlife around the globe.
My background was originally in Zoology (BSc, Leeds, 1997) and Conservation Biology (MSc, Kent, 2000) but I then focused in social science for my doctorate at Oxford University (DPhil, 2014), after which I trained in non-profit strategy & management at Harvard Business School (2015), conflict negotiation at Harvard Law School (2017) and multilateral and diplomatic negotiation at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (2019). I grew up in Indonesia, Lebanon, France and Canada, immersed in diverse cultural and multilingual settings, and have travelled, lived and worked in 60 countries.
INTER-GOVERNMENTAL POLICY & GLOBAL WORK
I am the founding Chair of the IUCN SSC Human-Wildlife Conflict Task Force, which provides interdisciplinary guidance and expert support on matters HWC globally. As part of this we have created the HWC Online Library - the most comprehensive resource on the topic. We are also developing the IUCN Guidelines on Human-Wildlife Conflict, a global guidance and policy document, which will be ready for field testing in 2021. We are also leading the International Conference on Human Wildlife Conflict and Coexistence, the first major multilateral international conference on this topic, hosted in partnership with World Bank, UNDP, GEF, FAO and Oxford. I am also Senior Advisor to the World Bank’s Global Wildlife Program which works across 30 countries on urgent conservation challenges such as illegal wildlife trade and human-wildlife conflict.
FIELD WORK & CONFLICT MITIGATION
During my 18 years at Chester Zoo (as Head of Conservation Science) I spearheaded a range of human-wildlife conflict mitigation projects. This allowed me to spend much time in the field, learning from many different and often very complex, dilemmas and realities of conflicts, how they escalate, and how to approach mitigation. Together with my wonderful colleagues, I learned how cattle ranchers of the Pantanal of Brazil coexist with jaguars, worked with very poor farmers struggling to live alongside elephants in Assam, and communities affected by tigers and leopards in Nepal, helped initiate sustainable livelihoods projects for people living with Andean bears in Bolivia, and led multilateral dialogues within a complicated dispute over fruit bats in Mauritius. My work ranged from mapping and social research, to participatory design, mediation dialogues, and evaluation. For these initiative my teams and I won the prestigious UK Darwin Initiative funding award five times.
ACADEMIC RESEARCH & TEACHING
As Senior Research Fellow and Associate Director at the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) at the University of Oxford I lead a research group of doctoral and postdoctoral researchers carrying out interdisciplinary studies on human wildlife conflict worldwide, in collaboration with Chester Zoo. My own research over the past 20 years has covered many aspect, from spatial modelling of elephant crop-raiding in Assam, to public perceptions of fruit bats in Mauritius, and the largest empirical study to date of conflicts about jaguars across 17 countries of Latin America. I frequently teach courses on human-wildlife conflict to students, NGO staff, and government officials. I am also Specialty Chief Editor of the academic journal Frontiers in Conservation Science, overseeing its portfolio on human-wildlife conflict and related topics.
MEDIA, SPEAKING & FACILITATION
I regularly provide advisory support to wildlife documentary producers, including the BBC Natural History Unit, Al Jazeera, and Discovery Channel, and to science & environment correspondents and journalists. I also frequently give seminars, keynotes, and guest lectures, at conferences and universities including Oxford, Cambridge, São Paulo, the IUCN World Conservation Congress, International Congress for Conservation Biology, London Zoological Society, European Association of Zoos & Aquaria, and many major conservation conferences. I am also a trained facilitator and experienced in conflict mediation work and have led, designed or facilitated many workshops and stakeholder dialogues around the globe.