Victor Deboutte


I am currently a second year MPhil Student on the Biodiversity, Conservation & Management course at the University of Oxford. Growing up in Kinshasa, the capital city of the DR Congo, I witnessed firsthand the enormous scale and rate at which nature and wildlife were being lost to deforestation, the bushmeat trade, and unsustainable agricultural practices. This ultimately spurred my lifelong interest in conservation and led me to study ecology and biodiversity conservation in higher education. It also compelled me to co-found Fondation Bombo Lumene, a non-profit organization which signed a partnership in 2021 with the DR Congo’s protected area management authority (ICCN) to manage the Bombo Lumene Reserve in an effort to transform it into a model for conservation, ecotourism, and sustainable development.

Research Interests

I am broadly interested in studying African mammals and tropical ecosystems, particularly in the Congo Basin. Furthermore, I am also interested in investigating the drivers of biodiversity loss in the Congo Basin, namely deforestation for charcoal production and the bushmeat trade. Through my experiences in the field and engaging with the literature I became more interested in the relationship between people and nature, and the value of local ecological knowledge and its role in conservation research.

Current Research

My current research project focuses on combining camera trapping and local ecological knowledge (LEK) to assess the mammal community of the Bombo Lumene Reserve in the DR Congo. The Bombo Lumene Reserve is a large protected area in close proximity to Kinshasa, the capital of the DR Congo. As a result, the reserve suffers from intense anthropogenic pressures in the form of poaching for bushmeat and deforestation for charcoal production to supply the markets of Kinshasa. Bombo Lumene’s mammals are therefore under extreme threat but remain unstudied and unmonitored.

By combining camera trapping with LEK, I aim to produce more robust estimates of mammal species occurrence and distribution, including the first estimates of mammal species occupancy for the Bombo Lumene Reserve’s forest habitat. I also aim to investigate historical mammal species occurrence and distribution, as well as population trends and status. The study also seeks to gain a deeper understanding of the underlying threats and challenges faced by the reserve, its biodiversity, and its staff. Lastly, this study will serve as baseline data for the long-term monitoring of the reserve’s mammals and will inform its conservation strategies and management plans.

Brief CV


2021 – present: MPhil in Biodiversity, Conservation & Management at the University of Oxford

2018 – 2021: BSc in Ecology & Environmental Biology at Imperial College London



2021 – present: Co-Founder & Vice President, Fondation Bombo Lumene

2018 – 2021: Expedition Leader, Expedition Bombo Lumene

2017: Research Assistant, Okavango Elephant & Predator Study