Growing up I always had a deep love of nature, and from my college years onward this fascination thrust me down a path of incredible opportunities that both challenged me as a scientist and gave me a greater understanding of conservation as a whole. My experiences have ranged from carnivore ecology, to wildlife sanctuaries, environmental law, elephant cognition, and large-scale meta-analyses. They have taught me that conservation is an intricate web that links governments, people, wildlife, and plants, to the very minerals they grow upon. And successful conservation measures must strive to address the many whims of these diverse players in a practical, effectual manner.
As is true of life itself, conservation cannot be pegged into any one type of science, and is instead fundamentally interdisciplinary. My research interests therefore have spanned both the ecological and social sciences.
At present I am most interested in addressing the demand end of wildlife trade for I believe this is key to long-term survival of global wildlife. I would like to better assess the psychological, cultural, and fiscal drivers behind human use of wildlife products, and how we can use these drivers to develop thorough, implementable methods to successfully reduce unsustainable human behaviour. Additionally, I would like to see conservation efforts shaped and executed with the same meticulous thread that all scientific research strives for.
For my doctoral work I am conducting research:
• on rigorous and repeatable methods for assessing demand of a wildlife product
• to understand the behavioural drivers behind this usage, primarily through the integration of theories and research in public health and social psychology
• on designing, and implementing, an evidence-based behavioural change intervention with thorough evaluation
Through this work, we hope to maximise the effectiveness of future demand reduction efforts, and set a precedent for imbuing time-sensitive, practitioner-driver conservation works with academic rigour.
This research is part of the Oxford Martin School Programme on Illegal Wildlife Trade.
Doughty, H.L.; Karpanty S.M.; and Wilbur, H.M. (January 2015). Local Hunting of Carnivores in Forested Africa: a Meta-Analysis. Oryx. Volume 49, issue 01, pages 88-95. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0030605314000179
“Local Hunting of Carnivores in Forested Africa: A Meta-Analysis”
For my master’s work, I conducted a meta-analysis studying the effects of local hunting on the carnivores in forested Africa, including Madagascar. Through this work I was able to discern some surprising trends showing which carnivores are being targeted, for what purpose, and what methods are being used to hunt them. Most importantly, I found that many carnivores are not only being used by locals for human consumption and cultural reasons, but they are also being transported and sold at urban markets. These findings stand in contrast to prior notions that few of these animals are marketable.
University of Virginia, Virginia, USA Advisor: Henry M Wilbur, Emeritus Professor of Biology