The Value of Wildlife

Saiga horns in a traditional Chinese medicine store in Singapore.

My experiences to date 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. Therefore, as is true of life itself, conservation cannot be pegged into any one type of science, and is instead fundamentally interdisciplinary. My research interests in turn has 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. I am also a member of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science in the Department of Zoology, at the University of Oxford.

For more details about my project, see my first published academic paper on the research, or contact me!

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Ivory jewelry on display at a night market in Thailand.
Related Academic Articles:
1. H Doughty, D Veríssimo, R Tan, J Lee, R Carrasco, K Oliver, EJ Milner-Gulland (2019). Saiga horn user characteristics, motivations, and purchasing behaviour in Singapore. PLOS ONE. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0222038.

Selected Related Blog Articles:
1. Beyond regulating trade: understanding the consumers driving saiga horn demand — University of Oxford Science Blog
2. A Call to Saiga People — Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science Blog

Have a listen to my guest role on The Refractive Thinker Podcast. Here I discuss wildlife product use, my doctoral work, and how we all play a role in reducing unsustainable practices.

Hunting the carnivore →