top of page

PhD Research

The international illegal wildlife trade is one of the most lucrative and rapidly growing illegal industries. Wildlife trafficking threatens the survival of rapidly dwindling wildlife populations and their ecosystems. It can damage human health, erode good governance, and hinder economic development. One of the biggest obstacles to eradicating wildlife trafficking is an inadequate understanding of how these networks operate. New research has identified a growing convergence of international criminal networks. However, there is currently no consensus in the academic literature on the degree to which the illegal wildlife trade converges with other organised crime activities, or on the most effective mitigation measures.  My interdisciplinary doctoral research will fill in this critical knowledge gap by engaging expert wildlife law enforcement practitioners across sectors and jurisdictions. The findings of this research will help inform more equitable and effective anti-wildlife trafficking efforts.

Next Project

Current approaches to mitigating illegal wildlife trade largely involve arresting criminal offenders in protected areas at the poaching level, who are often experiencing multidimensional poverty, or smugglers at the border, who similarly profit the least. Rarely do authorities investigate beyond these actors to understand the bigger network, the role of corruption, or how money is being moved across borders. Analyzing financial transfers, or "follow the money" approaches, are long-established in more conventional types of law enforcement, yet rarely applied to wildlife crime investigations. Following the money trail allows law enforcement to determine the key players that are operating at the top-level internationally and making the most in proceeds from the exploitation of wildlife. Our study aims to use a comprehensive and well-established theoretical framework from implementation science to understand the barriers and facilitators to implementing follow the money approaches into illegal wildlife trade networks in Canada. Our findings will advance interdisciplinary implementation theory and assist practitioners in developing more effective investigations. Ultimately, this knowledge will help improve approaches to disrupt sophisticated international illegal wildlife trade syndicates.

Exotic pet trade in Canada

While Canadians generally have pro-environmental attitudes, it is unclear whether this extends to the trade in exotic animals. With most Canadians on social media, we aimed to use Natural Language Processing of social data to examine public sentiment towards exotic pet trade in Canada. We analysed 9,00+ posts on Twitter about exotic pets  and 150,000+ comments from 2568 TikTok videos showing exotic pets from 50 unique Canadian accounts. We found that social media users demonstrate markedly positive attitudes towards the live trade in reptiles and amphibians, mammals, birds, and arachnids and insects, even on TikTok videos showing poor animal care and questionable legality. Exotic pet influencers  contribute to increased demand for exotic pets through opinion leadership, sharing information on where to buy exotic pets, and normalising exotic pet ownership.

Read More

Precarious Employment of Park Rangers

Park rangers are at the frontline of conservation efforts around the world. Rangers can have diverse roles and responsibilities, yet all work to ensure that wildlife and other natural resources are being protected. However, they often work in challenging and dangerous conditions with the threat of encountering armed intruders, dangerous wildlife, and contracting infectious diseases. In addition to the physical hazards of the job, there are severe psychological impacts that can be derived from receiving low and infrequent income, living in social isolation, and other factors. We intend to explore how precarious employment is conceptualised with regards to park rangers, the impacts of precarity on the mental and physical health of rangers, and what can be done to improve employment conditions of park rangers.

Poverty, Pandemics and Wildlife Crime

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a global recession and mass unemployment. It has particularly affected rural economies of tropical low- and middle-income countries where biodiversity is concentrated, through reductions in trade and international tourism. As this is exacerbating poverty in these regions, it is important to examine the relationship between poverty and wildlife crime, so that conservationists and policymakers can better anticipate and respond to the impact of a pandemic on biodiversity. To that end, we explore the relationship between poverty and wildlife crime, and its relevance in the context of a global pandemic.

Read More

Engaging Local Communities in Wildlife Law Enforcement

Wildlife crime in protected areas remains a major challenge to conservation. However, little is known about the role of local communities in providing information on illegal activities to help improve law enforcement efforts in protected areas. As part of my Masters thesis, and as an initial exploration of this complex topic, we aimed to understand the perceptions of law enforcement authorities working directly with local communities on the conditions under which local people provide information to park rangers, using Murchison Falls Protected Area in Uganda as a case study.

Read More

Global Governance of Illegal Wildlife Trade

The global illegal trade in wildlife is facilitated by a number of shortcomings in how wildlife trade is governed around the world. Therefore, overcoming the shortcomings is crucial in order to limit the opportunities and loopholes that criminal networks are able to exploit. This project seeks to consider a series of gaps in the regulatory measures, policies, and legislation currently in place governing international illegal wildlife trade and to suggest solutions to overcome the challenges, including solutions that are specific to each stage of the illegal wildlife trade supply chain (source, transit, and destination states).

Contact Me for Info

COVID-19 Economic Response and Recovery

This project sought to answer the following question: What research evidence exists and what are the research gaps at global, regional, and national levels on interventions to protect jobs, small- and medium-sized enterprises, and formal/informal sector workers in socioeconomic response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic? Our findings were organized according to the 3 main categories of socioeconomic interventions—protecting jobs, enterprises, and workers—although the 3 are intertwined.

Read More
Reptile Still
bottom of page