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We need to revolutionise academia - and here's how we can do it

It’s high time us academics took a step back from navel-gazing just for a second to really glance up and around us. At present, we can’t see the wood for the trees. We’re too busy chasing that next grant, boosting our citations and writing that next journal article to reflect on what we’ve become.

So what are we? Simply, we have become money-making machines for universities and journals. We are no longer here to teach students, to improve society or to make the world a better place. We have become commoditised by the exploitative incentive system within academia that only promotes you if you bring in cash. For some sickening, potentially neo-liberal reason, we have forgotten why we are all here in the first place. To create positive change.

We have been confused and misguided by the amorphous “Faculty” and lured into paying exorbitant fees to publish our work, despite practically every other professional writing careerist actually being paid to write. Somehow, we have forgotten that t…

New website!

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I've finally had to bite the bullet and make my own website. You can now find all my latest writing, interviews and work updates at nikirust.com


Our UK heroes tackling wildlife crime

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Each year, wildlife crime enforcers from around the UK descend upon Leamington Spa to share insights and experiences on tackling wildlife crime in this country and abroad. This weekend I’ve been at the National Wildlife Crime Enforcers Conference to present awards on behalf of WWF to the law enforcers who have gone above and beyond to tackle wildlife crime in the UK. And the winners are….
Law Enforcer of the Year Police Sergeant Kevin Kelly of the North Yorkshire Police has won the Wildlife Law Enforcer of the Year Award for his outstanding achievements in enforcement of wildlife law this year. Sgt Kevin Kelly has been instrumental in transforming the way that wildlife crime is dealt with in the north, setting up a new unit of 17 officers dedicated to the issue. Most recently, his strong relationships with the RSPB have allowed raptor persecution to be stopped within minutes of offences being committed. Sgt Kelly has also been instrumental in tackling illegal fox hunting.


Sergeant Kev…

Winners of the WWF human-wildlife conflict tech challenge!

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Back in July, we set up a competition where you could win 30,000 Euros to develop technology to reduce human-wildlife conflict

I'm excited to announce the winners for the first International Human-Wildlife Conflict Technology Challenge! WWF and WildLabs asked applicants to propose technological solutions to develop early-warning systems, letting communities know if carnivores or elephants were approaching. And the winners are….. *drumroll*

British researcher Alasdair Davies and the Dutch team of Laurens de Groot and Tim van Dam will each receive €30,000 to further develop and field test their solutions for reducing human-wildlife conflicts.

These two applications were chosen from 47 innovative ideas originating from 14 countries.



The Carnivore Category Winner Alasdair Davies, of The Arribada Initiative, will work on producing technology to develop early-warning systems for tigers and polar bears. Fortunately for us here at WWF-UK, Alasdair is based just down the road in Surrey.

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Do you like cheetahs as much as me? Then this book may be for you

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I am so excited to announce that finally, after many years in the making, the cheetah book that my old colleagues from Cheetah Conservation Fund and I have been working on is out next month!!


I co-authored two chapters, one on reducing human-cheetah conflict (Chapter 13) and another on using social science methods to conserve cheetah (Chapter 35).

Cheetahs: Biodiversity of the World reports on the science and conservation of the cheetah both in the wild and in captivity, covering such aspects of cheetah biology and ecology as demography, density and feeding behavior; genetic makeup and disease risks; and home range requirements and spatial utilization. The volume includes a broad range of topics, demonstrating the interdisciplinary nature of research and conservation efforts. The book begins with chapters on the unique physiology of this species, followed by the taxonomy and genetic status of the cheetah, leading into their behavior and ecology.

Want a discount?! Visit https://www.els…

The controversy of reintroduced predators

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Back in August, a rare female brown bear was sentenced to death by Italian authorities as it had been found guilty of attacking a number of people.  The final straw was when it seriously injured an elder;y man who was out walking his dog.  Was it right for the authorities to kill the bear?  I was interviewed the BBC to talk about the complications of introducing potentially-deadly predators into human-dominated landscapes.  You can read the full article here.

The big, bad wolf or the ecosystem architect?

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Last week, whilst in the depths of a conference on illegal wildlife trade, I was contacted by BBC Radio 4 to do an interview on wolves.  It was not a good PR week for wolves - they had been blamed for the death of a British lady who was visiting Greece.  I tried to set the record straight on human-wolf conflict and was thrown a curveball question at the end on how to respond if you think a wolf might be stalking you!  You can hear the interview from 47:18 onwards here.