wildcru hero

About the Group

I am interested in the scientific underpinning of practical and policy solutions to problems in wildlife conservation. I founded the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit in 1986. Its aim was, and remains, to undertake original research on aspects of fundamental biology relevant to solving practical problems of wildlife conservation and environmental management, and thus to underpin policy formation and public debate of the many issues that surround the conservation of wildlife and it’s habitats.

Although my background is in the behavioural ecology of mammals, my group’s research currently spans taxa ranging from mammals to moths, and is inter and trans-disciplinary (including teams involving environmental economics, law, ethics and the social sciences under the umbrella of the WildCRU’s Conservation Geopolitics Initiative). Much of our research is stimulated by conflict between people and wildlife, whether it be through predation, infectious disease or invasive species.

In these contexts my team works on long-term data sets on badgers, lions, clouded leopard and Ethiopian wolves. A thread uniting many aspects of our research is the ecological basis of social organization, with particular reference to the impacts of both resource dispersion and perturbation. This has also led to an Oxford Martin School project entitled Natural Governance www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/research/programmes/natural-governance.

We have special expertise with the Carnivora, and our emphasis on the Felidae currently involves research on Scottish wildcats (problems of hybridisation), lions (problems with trophy hunting and stock-raiding), tigers and leopards (stock-raiding), and the impact of logging on Bornean felids. Other strands include conservation marketing, a green market for tourism, illegal pet and bone trades, farming and wildlife (which spans bats on British farmland to leopards on Sri Lankan tea plantations) and wild animal welfare.

Amongst other things I am currently a board member of the School of Wildlife Conservation, African Leadership University; Chair of Action for Conservation; Advisory Committee member and Co-signatory, with HRH Prince William, United for Wildlife e-learning; Scientific Council member for Panthera.

For more information visit: www.wildcru.org 



WildCRU’s Recanati-Kaplan Centre Postgraduate Diploma in International Wildlife Conservation Practice has trained 74 early-career conservationists from 36 countries since 2008, when the first cohort of students joined WildCRU for the intensive, residential course. In every case their Oxford experience has been life-changing and career building, elevating them into world class practitioners. The camaraderie and professional linkages are intense – the result is a global community of highly skilled and collaborative conservationists. In 2011 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth honoured us with the Queen’s Award for Higher Education largely for this Diploma course, which we are now rolling out through web-learning in Africa and SE Asia.



Professor David MacDonald (Director)

For all team members, click here.

Recent Publications


Macdonald, D.W. and Feber, R.E. (Eds), (2015), Wildlife Conservation on Farmland Volume 1: Managing for Nature on Lowland Farms, Oxford University Press, Oxford

Macdonald, D.W. and Feber, R.E. (Eds), (2015), Wildlife Conservation on Farmland Volume 2: Conflict in the Countryside, Oxford University Press, Oxford

Macdonald, D.W., Newman, C. and Harrington, L.A. (2017) Biology and Conservation of Musteloids, Oxford University Press, Oxford

Macdonald, D.W. and Loveridge, A, (2010) Biology and Conservation of Wild Felids, Oxford University Press, Oxford

Macdonald, D.W. and Sillero-Zuberi, C. (2004) Biology and Conservation of Wild Canids, Oxford University Press, Oxford

Macdonald, D.W. and Willis, K.J., (Eds) (2013) Key Topics in Conservation Biology 2, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford

Macdonald, D.W. and Service, K., (Eds) (2007) Key Topics in Conservation Biology, Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Oxford

Macdonald, D.W. (Ed), (2009), The Encyclopedia of Mammals, Oxford University Press



Bahaa-El-Din, L., Henschel, P., Butynski, T. and Macdonald, D. W., (2015), The African golden cat Caracal aurata: Africa's least-known felid, Mammal Review. 45(1):63-77

Bauer, H., Chapron, G., Nowell, K., Henschel, P., Funston, P., Hunter, L. T. B., Macdonald, D. W. and Packer, C., (2015), Lion (Panthera leo) populations are declining rapidly across Africa, except in intensively managed areas, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 112(48):14894-14899

Creel, S., Becker, M., Christianson, D., Dröge, E., Hammerschlag, N., Hayward, M. W., Karanth, U., Loveridge, A., Macdonald, D. W., Matandiko, W., M'soka, J., Murray, D., Rosenblatt, E. and Schuette, P., (2015), Questionable policy for large carnivore hunting, Science. 350(6267):1473-1475

Cushman, S. A., Elliot, N. B., Macdonald, D. W. and Loveridge, A. J., (2015), A multi-scale assessment of population connectivity in African lions (Panthera leo) in response to landscape change, Landscape Ecology. 10.1007/s10980-015-0292-31-17

Dickman, A. J., Hinks, A. E., Macdonald, E. A., Burnham, D. and Macdonald, D. W., (2015), Priorities for Global Felid Conservation, Conservation Biology. 29(3):854-864

Du Preez, B., Hart, T., Loveridge, A. J. and Macdonald, D. W., (2015), Impact of risk on animal behaviour and habitat transition probabilities, Animal Behaviour. 100(22-37

Feber, R. E., Johnson, P. J., Bell, J. R., Chamberlain, D. E., Firbank, L. G., Fuller, R. J., Manley, W. J., Mathews, F., Norton, L. R., Townsend, M. C. and Macdonald, D. W., (2015), Organic Farming: Biodiversity Impacts Can Depend on Dispersal Characteristics and Landscape Context, PLoS ONE. 10(8):e0135921

Gopalaswamy, A. M., Mohan, D., Karanth, K. U., Kumar, N. S. and Macdonald, D. W., (2015), An examination of index-calibration experiments: counting tigers at macroecological scales, Methods in Ecology and Evolution. 6(9):1055-1066

Groenendijk, J., Hajek, F., Schenck, C., Staib, E., Johnson, P. J. and Macdonald, D. W., (2015), Effects of territory size on the reproductive success and social system of the giant otter, south-eastern Peru, Journal of Zoology. 296(3):153-160

Kilshaw, K., Johnson, P. J., Kitchener, A. C. and Macdonald, D. W., (2015), Detecting the elusive Scottish wildcat Felis silvestris silvestris using camera trapping, Oryx. 49(2):207-215

Kuiper, T. R., Loveridge, A. J., Parker, D. M., Johnson, P. J., Hunt, J. E., Stapelkamp, B., Sibanda, L. and Macdonald, D. W., (2015), Seasonal herding practices influence predation on domestic stock by African lions along a protected area boundary, Biological Conservation. 191(546-554

Macdonald, E. A., Burnham, D., Hinks, A. E., Dickman, A. J., Malhi, Y. and Macdonald, D. W., (2015), Conservation inequality and the charismatic cat: Felis felicis Global Ecology & Conservation. 3(851-866

Moorhouse, T. P., Dahlsjö, C. A., Baker, S. E., D'Cruze, N. C. and Macdonald, D. W., (2015), The Customer Isn't Always Right—Conservation and Animal Welfare Implications of the Increasing Demand for Wildlife Tourism, PLoS ONE. 10(10):e0138939

Noonan, M. J., Markham, A., Newman, C., Trigoni, N., Buesching, C. D., Ellwood, S. A. and Macdonald, D. W., (2015), A new Magneto-Inductive tracking technique to uncover subterranean activity: what do animals do underground?, Methods in Ecology and Evolution. 6(5):510-520

Oriol-Cotterill, A., Macdonald, D. W., Valeix, M., Ekwanga, S. and Frank, L. G., (2015), Spatiotemporal patterns of lion space use in a human-dominated landscape, Animal Behaviour. 101(27-39)

Ripple, W. J., Newsome, T., Wolf, C., Dirzo, R., Everatt, K. T., Galetti, M., Hayward, M., Kerley, G., Levi, T., Lindsey, P. A., Macdonald, D. W., Malhi, Y., Painter, L. E., Sandom, C. J., Terborgh, J. and Van Valkenburgh, B., (2015), Collapse of the world's largest herbivores, Science Advances. 1(4):e1400103

Williams, V. L., Loveridge, A.J., Newton, D.J. and Macdonald, D.W. (2015), Tiger-bone trade could threaten lions, Nature. 523(7560):290-290

Zhou, Z., Johnson, R. N., Newman, C., Buesching, C. D., Macdonald, D. W. and Zhou, Y., (2015), Tweak Chinese law to end ivory demand, Nature. 518(303


List of site pages