I am an African environmental scientist involved in interdisciplinary research on human-nature relations. I recently completed my PhD with ICCS, on the reliability and conservation value of ranger-collected data on elephant poaching (see here for a quick summary). I am now a postdoctoral fellow funded by the Oxford Policy Engagement Network and working to translate my PhD findings into policy recommendations for protected area management and anti-poaching in Zimbabwe (see our project here). I love data and statistics and have experience using statistical and geospatial modelling methods to better understand human-nature interactions across time and space. I have previously worked on human-carnivore conflict in Zimbabwe, elephant population dynamics in South Africa, links between wildlife trade and COVID-19, and conservation education. My trajectory has become more interdisciplinary during and since my PhD. I have learnt that diverse methods (from interviews to mathematics) are essential for understanding complex human-nature systems and generating knowledge that is useful for conservation practitioners. I have also taught and supervised students in various statistical and environmental topics (mostly at the University of Oxford).
I am interested in socio-ecological systems research and enjoy integrating statistical/mathematical modelling with qualitative methods. I have a particular interest in the collection of biological and social data by wildlife rangers and the use of these data for conservation management. Previously I worked on the population biology, social structure, and conservation management of the elephants of Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, South Africa. Before that, my research with the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at Oxford focussed on human carnivore interactions alongside Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.
My postdoctoral Fellowship focusses on maximizing the value of ranger-collected data for biodiversity conservation. My PhD (2017-2020, also with ICCS at Oxford) investigated the reliability and conservation-value of ranger-collected data on elephant poaching in the Zambezi Valley, Zimbabwe. You can read a layman's summary of my PhD here.
My postdoc with Professor E.J. Milner-Gulland focusses on translating my PhD findings into action in Zimbabwe. Our project involves close partnership with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and is funded by the Oxford Policy Engagement Network. We are working together to identify specific policy processes and strategies to maximise the use of ranger-collected data to tackle elephant poaching in Zimbabwe. We are also investigating the value of ranger-collected data for answering broader management questions. You can read more about the project here.
Globally, hundreds of thousands of wildlife rangers patrol wide areas within protected areas every day, observing diverse plants and animals as well as evidence of illegal activities like poaching. Data collection by rangers has enormous potential to track changes in biodiversity and threats to it - crucial information for both biodiversity science and policy.
2021-present: Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Oxford
2017-2020: PhD, University of Oxford. The reliability and conservation-value of ranger-collected data on elephant poaching (Zimbabwe)
2016-2017: Project Officer, Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park Elephant Monitoring and Conservation Programme (South Africa)
2014-2015: MSc Biodiversity, Conservation and Management, University of Oxford
2014: Research Assistant at WildCRU, Oxford, focussing on human-lion conflict in Zimbabwe
2013: BSc Honours, Rhodes University, South Africa. Research focusing on the role of livestock movements in livestock-predator interactions alongside Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe.
2010-2012: BSc with majors in Zoology and Mathematical Statistics, Rhodes University, South Africa.
A Rocha, a biodiversity conservation NGO with a Christian ethos
British Ecological Society
Society for Conservation Biology
Booth H, Arias M, Brittain S, Challender DWS, Khanyari M, Kuiper T, Li Y, Olmedo A, Oyanedel R, Pienkowski T and Milner-Gulland EJ (2021) “Saving Lives, Protecting Livelihoods, and Safeguarding Nature”: Risk-Based Wildlife Trade Policy for Sustainable Development Outcomes Post-COVID-19. Front. Ecol. Evol. 9:639216. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2021.639216
Kuiper, T., Masse, F., Kavhu, B., Ngwenya, N.A., Milner-Gulland, E.J. (2020). Ranger perceptions of, and engagement with, monitoring of elephant poaching. People and Nature 3(1). Available here
Kuiper, T., Kavhu, B., Ngwenya, N.A., Mandisodza-Chikerema, R., Milner-Gulland, E.J., 2020. Rangers and modellers collaborate to build and evaluate spatial models of African elephant poaching. Biological Conservation 243, 108486. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2020.108486
Dobson, ADM., Milner-Gulland, EJ., Aebischer, NJ., Beale, C.,…,Kuiper, T.R. et al.(2020). Making messy data work for conservation. One Earth 2(5), 455-465. Available here
Kuiper, T. R., Druce, H., & Druce, D. (2018). Demography and social dynamics of an African elephant population 35 years after reintroduction as juveniles. Journal of Applied Ecology, 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.13199
Kuiper, T.R., Dickman, A.J., Hinks, A.E., Sillero-Zubiri, C., Macdonald, E.A. & Macdonald, D.W. 2018. Combining ecological and socio-political criteria to determine conservation priorities for the endangered African wild dog. Animal Conservation. https://doi.org/10.1111/acv.12405
Kuiper, T.R., Loveridge, A.J., Parker, D.M., Johnson, P.J., Hunt, J.E., Stapelkamp, B., Sibanda, L. & Macdonald, D.W. (2015a) Seasonal herding practices influence predation on domestic stock by African lions along a protected area boundary. Biological Conservation, 191, 546–554.
Loveridge, A.J., Kuiper, T.R., Parry, R., Stapelkamp, B., Sibanda, L. & Macdonald, D.W. (2017) Bells, bomas and beef-steak: complex patterns of human-predator conflict at the protected area- agro-pastoral interface. PeerJ, 5, e2898.
Kuiper, T.R. & Parker, D.M. (2013) Grass height is the determinant of sheep grazing effects on small mammals in a savanna ecosystem. The Rangeland Journal, 35, 403–408.
Kuiper, T.R. & Parker, D.M. (2014) Elephants in Africa: Big, grey biodiversity thieves? South African Journal of Science, 110, 1–3.
Kuiper, T.R., Smith, D.L., Wolmarans, M.H.L., Jones, S.S., Forbes, R.W., Hulley, P.E. & Craig, A.J.F.K. (2015b) The importance of winter-flowering Aloe ferox for specialist and generalist nectar-feeding birds. Emu, 151, 49–57.
Kuiper, TR. 2020. Mathematical models to test the performance of ranger-based monitoring. I was invited by the Centre for Statistics in Conservation at the University of Cape Town to give this seminar.
Kuiper, TR. 2019. The occupational culture of wildlife rangers and their engagement with monitoring. Invited by the Biodiversity and Security program at Sheffield University to give this seminar
Kuiper, TR. 2019. Ranger-based monitoring of elephant poaching: pattern and bias. International Conference on Conservation Biology, Malaysia.
Kuiper, TR. 2016. Elephant management on Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park. Symposium on Contemporary Conservation Practice, Howick, South Africa.