Showing posts from July, 2015

Was Cecil the lion a martyr for his species?

Repost from my article with Diogo Verissimo on The Conversation

The death of a celebrity often makes the headlines, but it is less common that the death of wild animal has the same effect. However, it appears that the entire world has mourned the loss of Cecil the lion, killed on a private game reserve bordering a national park in Zimbabwe. But is the recent barrage of attacks on trophy hunting, and the US dentist who killed Cecil, justified?

Let’s be clear: Cecil was killed illegally, which we don’t condone. The landowner who allowed the hunt on his reserve without the necessary permit should face the justice system. But this one bad apple should not tarnish an entire industry.

Legally hunting lions in Zimbabwe is highly regulated: it requires various permits and licenses from the client, professional hunter and hunting reserve owner. National quotas aim to ensure sustainable off-take of the species and, in western Zimbabwe, lions are only killed once they have reached a certain age to …

Can you bribe people to like predators?

My latest article, "Media Framing of Financial Mechanisms for Resolving Human-Predator Conflict in Namibia", (bit of a mouthful, I'm sorry) has just been published in the journal Human Dimensions of Wildlife (and what's more, it's FREE to read - thanks ESRC for paying for open-access articles!). 

The long and short of this study is that I read a bunch of Namibian newspapers to see how different types of finance schemes (i.e. payments of some sort) could improve human-carnivore coexistence.  

In plain English, what this means is does giving people money really make them happier about having carnivores living on their farm and potentially eating their livestock?

[spoiler alert]

Well the answer is: not really.

In particular, compensation (i.e. being paid for livestock that has been killed by predators) was seen in bad light when people were (un)fortunate to be enrolled in this scheme.  This was because of problems with corruption, delayed payments, the money not being en…

Could the Pill save the polar bear?

Repost from my article in The Conversation

Conservationists tend to spend their time worrying about protecting forests, catching poachers or keeping carbon out of the atmosphere. But all these things (and more) are driven by humans. Given that it’s easier and cheaper to reduce the human birth rate than it is to address these other issues, why aren’t conservationists more concerned about keeping our population down?

After all, it is estimated that more than three-quarters of the world’s ice-free land has been modified by people. We are already overstepping the planet’s boundaries and our actions are causing climate change and the sixth mass extinction.

By 2050 human population growth alone will threaten a further 14% of the planet’s species; this is on top of the 52% decline in numbers of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish over the past four decades.

Only 13 years ago, we were 6 billion; just seven years later, we hit 7 billion and by 2100 we could be as many as 12.3 billio…