I have 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, large-scale meta-analyses, and most recently, behavioural change research.
This breadth of work has 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 in conjunction with behaviour insights theory and research, 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 implementing a full-scale behavioural change intervention to reduce the use of a wild animal under immense hunting pressure. We are employing a standardised level of rigour and evaluation from public health, as well as frameworks, theories, and techniques from public health, social psychology, and information spreading literature. The intervention is targeting saiga horn (Saiga tatarica) consumers among Chinese Singaporeans, who use saiga as a traditional Chinese medicine to treat fever and heatiness (a TCM state of illness).
Key aspects of this work include:
• Designing and implementing a large multi-disciplinary project with behavioural insights
• Utilising multi-pronged consumer research approaches
• Employing neutral consumer survey techniques to minimise social desirability bias
• Developing a conceptual framework tying data evidence with literature on Social Cognitive Theory, medical pluralism, and information seeking behaviour
• Designing and implementing a full intervention using information spreading techniques and online advertising platforms
• Conducting a thorough evaluation approach with triangulation
Thesis title: Evidence-Based Behavioural Intervention on Saiga Horn as a Traditional Medicine in Singapore.
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, Veríssimo D, Chun Qi Tan R, Ser Huay Lee J, Carrasco LR, Oliver K, Milner-Gulland EJ. Saiga horn user characteristics, motivations, and purchasing behaviour in Singapore. PLOS ONE. (In revision)
Doughty H, Karpanty S, Wilbur H (2015). Local Hunting of Carnivores in Forested Africa: a Meta-Analysis. Oryx. 49(1): 88-95. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0030605314000179
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