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Showing posts from 2017

Our UK heroes tackling wildlife crime

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Each year, wildlife crime enforcers from around the UK descend upon Leamington Spa to share insights and experiences on tackling wildlife crime in this country and abroad. This weekend I’ve been at the National Wildlife Crime Enforcers Conference to present awards on behalf of WWF to the law enforcers who have gone above and beyond to tackle wildlife crime in the UK. And the winners are….
Law Enforcer of the Year Police Sergeant Kevin Kelly of the North Yorkshire Police has won the Wildlife Law Enforcer of the Year Award for his outstanding achievements in enforcement of wildlife law this year. Sgt Kevin Kelly has been instrumental in transforming the way that wildlife crime is dealt with in the north, setting up a new unit of 17 officers dedicated to the issue. Most recently, his strong relationships with the RSPB have allowed raptor persecution to be stopped within minutes of offences being committed. Sgt Kelly has also been instrumental in tackling illegal fox hunting.


Sergeant Kev…

Winners of the WWF human-wildlife conflict tech challenge!

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Back in July, we set up a competition where you could win 30,000 Euros to develop technology to reduce human-wildlife conflict

I'm excited to announce the winners for the first International Human-Wildlife Conflict Technology Challenge! WWF and WildLabs asked applicants to propose technological solutions to develop early-warning systems, letting communities know if carnivores or elephants were approaching. And the winners are….. *drumroll*

British researcher Alasdair Davies and the Dutch team of Laurens de Groot and Tim van Dam will each receive €30,000 to further develop and field test their solutions for reducing human-wildlife conflicts.

These two applications were chosen from 47 innovative ideas originating from 14 countries.



The Carnivore Category Winner Alasdair Davies, of The Arribada Initiative, will work on producing technology to develop early-warning systems for tigers and polar bears. Fortunately for us here at WWF-UK, Alasdair is based just down the road in Surrey.

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Do you like cheetahs as much as me? Then this book may be for you

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I am so excited to announce that finally, after many years in the making, the cheetah book that my old colleagues from Cheetah Conservation Fund and I have been working on is out next month!!


I co-authored two chapters, one on reducing human-cheetah conflict (Chapter 13) and another on using social science methods to conserve cheetah (Chapter 35).

Cheetahs: Biodiversity of the World reports on the science and conservation of the cheetah both in the wild and in captivity, covering such aspects of cheetah biology and ecology as demography, density and feeding behavior; genetic makeup and disease risks; and home range requirements and spatial utilization. The volume includes a broad range of topics, demonstrating the interdisciplinary nature of research and conservation efforts. The book begins with chapters on the unique physiology of this species, followed by the taxonomy and genetic status of the cheetah, leading into their behavior and ecology.

Want a discount?! Visit https://www.els…

The controversy of reintroduced predators

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Back in August, a rare female brown bear was sentenced to death by Italian authorities as it had been found guilty of attacking a number of people.  The final straw was when it seriously injured an elder;y man who was out walking his dog.  Was it right for the authorities to kill the bear?  I was interviewed the BBC to talk about the complications of introducing potentially-deadly predators into human-dominated landscapes.  You can read the full article here.

The big, bad wolf or the ecosystem architect?

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Last week, whilst in the depths of a conference on illegal wildlife trade, I was contacted by BBC Radio 4 to do an interview on wolves.  It was not a good PR week for wolves - they had been blamed for the death of a British lady who was visiting Greece.  I tried to set the record straight on human-wolf conflict and was thrown a curveball question at the end on how to respond if you think a wolf might be stalking you!  You can hear the interview from 47:18 onwards here.

Quantity does not always mean quality

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I'm excited to announce that our new journal article on qualitative methods for conservation has been published in Society & Natural Resources! Here we talk about the quantitative / qualitative divide in conservation and explain the importance of appreciating the benefits of qualitative studies when trying to understand complex, under-researched areas.


Most conservation studies are quantitative in nature. They use numbers, percentages, statistics and modelling to empirically test predefined hypotheses. Whilst there is merit in this approach when you already know a fair amount about a topic, it's unhelpful when studying a new subject - or when you want to challenge conventional thinking.

That's where qualitative methods come in

Qualitative methods are exploratory in nature, where the goal is dive deeply into a specific topic to garner as much information as possible about it. Hypotheses are not usually used here because the researcher doesn't want to start with a pre…

Here’s your chance to help reduce human-wildlife conflict!

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Imagine you’re a Canadian living in the Arctic Circle. You’ve recently been told that polar bears have been spotted roaming around your town. You might now be quite scared to walk around your neighbourhood, especially at night on your own.

Polar bear investigates recently collapsed observation tower near Churchill, Canada © WWF-US / Elisabeth Kruger
But one day you’re round a friend’s house for dinner and stay later than expected. Your car’s broken down so you need to walk just five minutes down the road to your house. You chance it because you think “well it’s unlikely I’ll come face to face with a polar bear”.

Unfortunately, though, as climate change reduces polar bear habitat, we’re seeing more and more instances of polar bears roaming around villages in the Arctic looking for an easy meal.And what’s worse, this situation isn’t just limited to polar bears. Wild animals from around the world are finding themselves squeezed into smaller and smaller places as humans destroy their habitat…

New threat to jaguars in Bolivia: poisoning

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I'm excited to announce that my first article in BBC Wildlife Magazine has been published!  It's in the June issue and talks about a new threat to jaguars in Bolivia: ranchers poisoning them.

Conservation Criminology: estimating wolf poaching intention

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Finally, after 4 years of waiting, our book chapter on estimating intentions to poach wolves has been published! In Chapter 11 of the new book Conservation Criminology, we evaluate whether hunters and farmers who had come into contact with wolves had the ability and inclination to poach wolves. We find that hunters were more inclined to poach wolves than farmers, even though farmers may have suffered a loss of livestock to wolves. The reason for this is because farmers might not have had their gun with them or it had not been loaded when they had seen a wolf.

Our findings indicate the importance of understanding not just attitudes towards wolves as a way of estimating poaching intent, but also including a person's skill and opportunity to shoot a wolf. You might really hate wolves, but if you don't own a gun, or if you've left it at home when you chance upon a wolf, you might never get the opportunity to kill it.

Quit nature to save wolves and bears? There are better ways

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My first New Scientist article was published yesterday! In it, I talk about new research out by Jeremey Bruskotter and colleagues on how modernisation could have helped large carnivores repopulate in western countries. As people move out of the countryside to get a better life in the cities (higher pay, better education), a farmer's life of conflict with predators is left behind. This means people no longer dislike predators so don't want to kill them.


World Goth Day

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This morning, I opened Twitter to find the hashtag #WorldGothDay was trending. Given that I used to be a goth as a kid (and still am on occasional weekends!) I thought what better day to merge my love of all things black with my passion for animals and #scicomm?! So I spent the day tweeting about #GothicAnimals!

It was so popular that the Telegraph picked it up and did an article on it!

May 22nd is World Goth Day - described, on the official World Goth Day website, as "a day where the goth scene gets to celebrate its own being, and an opportunity to make its presence known to the rest of the world." To mark the occasion, Twitter user Niki Rust, who works for the WWF as a Wildlife Technical Adviser, has been sharing pictures of her favourite gothic animals:

View image on Twitter


Niki Rust@NikiRust Today is