My current research and conservation work spans a broad range of topics but can be generally categorized as falling within behavioural ecology (particularly social behavior, fitness benefits of sociality, contest behavior, evolutionary game theory and behavioural adaptations to environmental challenges), conservation (conservation behavior, efficacy monitoring of applied conservation initiatives, and, more recently, conservation genetics) and human-wildlife conflict (illegal wildlife trade, wildlife forensics, wildlife tourism and mitigation of livestock predation and crop-raiding), focused primarily on two species in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco: the African golden wolf (Canis anthus) and Barbary macaque (Macaca sylvanus). My focus on golden wolves and macaques is not only out of interest for these fascinating species in their own right, but also for their roles as keystone and flagship species in the Atlas Mountains to promote conservation of this biodiversity hotspot as a whole.
The African golden wolf is a newly-discovered species of which very little is currently known. Within Morocco, population trends predict their extinction within decades, driven largely by direct human persecution due to conflict over livestock but likely exacerbated by additional threats such as loss of habitat and prey and interactions with semi-feral domestic dogs. I created the Atlas Golden Wolf Project (www.atlasgoldenwolf.org) to study and conserve North African golden wolves. As the largest remaining predator in the Atlas Mountains following the recent extinction of large felids, understanding and protecting golden wolves is critical for the preservation of Atlas Mountain biodiversity.
My research and the Atlas Golden Wolf Project are generously supported by the Newton Abraham Scholarship, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the UK Wolf Conservation Trust.