Lambert Lecturer in Environment (Applied Herpetology)
The Department of Geography, Environment and Development Studies
Birkbeck, University of London
32 Tavistock Square
My research interests are inherently interdisciplinary and range across the fields of animal geography, historical geography, environmental humanities (history in particular), ethnozoology and conservation science. What they all have in common is an engagement with the conservation of biodiversity and human wellbeing and cultural diversity, and an interest in applying research to real world challenges.
My current focus is interdisciplinary research on human-predator encounters, and in particular the crocodilians. In 2015, I initiated an interdisciplinary discussion on human-predator relations at the University of Oxford, funded by The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH). A position paper on ways forward has been accepted by Conservation Biology.
Related interests include: mapping social and ecological dimensions of human-crocodile encounters in space and time; testing theories on the influence of biophysical factors on the seasonality of crocodilian bites on humans (with George Powell, and in collaboration with Dr Allan Woodward and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and Dr Yusuke Fukuda of the Department of Land Resource Management in Northern Territory, Australia); and infographics as a means of exploring and communicating about conflictual human-predator relations.
My infographics based on my crocodile research in southern Africa can be viewed at: http://www.crocodile-attack.info/data-viz and are published in my booklet Don’t get eaten by a crocodile: in South Africa or Swaziland (2015), which is being used by wildlife authorities in those countries.
My other research interests include the challenges of interdisciplinarity, cultural histories of humans and predators (especially reptiles), the history of wildlife conservation, environmental histories of wildfire, and biological invasions (especially in Mediterranean-type regions).
I am interested in supervising research on human-predator relations (AKA human-wildlife conflicts); on collecting, analysing, visualising and communicating data on human-predator interactions; ethnozoology; conceptions on Nature in the Anthropocene; the history of wildlife conservation and conservation science; the uses and abuses of history and historical data in ecology and conservation science; critical thinking on biological invasions and restoration ecology; and wildfire.
My research on crocodile attacks features on BBC Earth at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/earth/story/20150721-when-crocodiles-attack
My research on wildfire is featured at: Insight feature, ‘Importance of fire for fynbos a reality’, Cape Times newspaper, 6 March 2015: http://www.iol.co.za/capetimes/importance-of-fire-to-fynbos-1828492
‘Ebola and Bushmeat’, letter to New Scientist, with John Fa and Robert Nasi, published 1 October 2014, issue 2989. https://www.newscientist.com/letter/mg22429890-200-ebola-and-bushmeat/
This was subsequently developed and published in Conservation Biology (2015) 29:3, 965–967.
IUCN SSC Crocodile Specialist Group
IUCN SSC Task Force on Human Wildlife Conflict
Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society
Centre for World Environmental History
University of Sussex
Member, European Society for Environmental History
Member, Society for Conservation Biology
2017, S. Pooley, M. Barua, W. Beinart, A. Dickman, G. Holmes, J. Lorimer, A.J. Loveridge, D.W. Macdonald, G. Marvin, S. Redpath, C. Sillero-Zubiri, A. Zimmermann and E.J. Milner-Gulland, ‘An interdisciplinary review of current and future approaches to improving human-predator relations’, Conservation Biology (in press).
2016, S. Pooley, ‘A cultural herpetology of Nile crocodiles in Africa,’ Conservation & Society, 14:4, 391-405. Available at:
2015, S. Pooley, John E. Fa, Robert Nasi, ‘No conservation silver lining to Ebola,’ Conservation Biology, 29:3, 965–967.
2014, S. Pooley, J. Andrew Mendelsohn and E.J. Milner-Gulland, ‘Hunting down the chimera of multiple disciplinarity in conservation science’, Conservation Biology, 28:1, 22–32.
2012, S. Pooley, ‘Recovering the lost history of fire in South Africa’s fynbos, c.1910-90’, Environmental History, 17 (January), 55-83.
2010, S. Pooley, ‘Pressed Flowers: ideas about alien and indigenous plants at the Cape, c.1902–45’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 36: 3, 599–618.
2009, S. Pooley, ‘Jan van Riebeeck as pioneering explorer and conservator of natural resources at the Cape of Good Hope (1652–62)’, Environment and History, 15, 3–33.
The South African edition of Burning Table Mountain was published by University of Cape Town (UCT) Press in 2015.
Pooley, 2014, ‘Invasion of the Crocodiles,’ in Iain McCalman, Jodi Frawley (eds.) Rethinking Invasion Ecologies from the Environmental Humanities(Routledge Environmental Humanities).
Pooley, 2013, ‘No Tears for the Crocodile: investigating calls for the extermination of the Nile crocodile in Zululand, South Africa, to c.1958’, book chapter in W. Beinart, K. Middleton, S.Pooley (ed.s), Wild Things: Nature and the Social Imagination (White Horse Press).
Pooley, 2011, ‘Fire and Loathing in the Fynbos’, book chapter in I.D. Rotherham, R.A. Lambert (ed.s), Invasive and Introduced Plants and Animals: Human Perceptions, Attitudes and Approaches to Management (Earthscan).
Pooley, 2010, ‘Histories of fire in South Africa’s Cape Floral Region’, in S. Mosley, G. Massard-Guilbaud (ed.s), Common Ground, Integrating the Social and Environmental in History (Cambridge Scholars).