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Helen Muller

Helen Muller

UCL Email: helen.muller.17@ucl.ac.uk
Year of Start: 2018
Supervisors: Emily Woodhouse (UCL), Marcus Rowcliffe (Institute of Zoology, ZSL)
Subject: Interdisciplinary conservation science, political ecology
Fieldsite: Ngamiland, Botswana

PhD Research

Understanding the socio-ecological impacts of the trophy hunting moratorium in Botswana.

Hunting and conservation in Africa have been linked throughout much of the conservation movement’s lifetime. The contribution of trophy hunting to conservation however, is a matter of intense debate. This is partly fuelled by the lack of evidence as to its efficacy as a conservation tool and there have been increasing calls to ban the practice. After decades of following a conservation approach which included sustainable wildlife use, the government of Botswana set a nation-wide moratorium on all hunting in January 2014. This moratorium provides a natural experiment for adding to the evidence base on the efficacy of trophy hunting as a conservation and rural development tool.

Using Botswana as a case study and a mixture of research techniques, this project aims to understand some of the social and ecological impacts of that policy decision and its implications for conservation in the country. The project aims to review the impacts of the Africa wide hunting industry on ecosystems and the societies in which it takes place and synthesise existing evidence of the efficacy of trophy hunting as a conservation tool. It them aims to determine the impact the moratorium in Botswana has had on the well-being of participating communities and the broader socio-political factors affecting these. It further aims to understand the impacts the moratorium has had on community perceptions towards conservation, trophy hunting and wildlife, and the impacts on wildlife population trends. Throughout, the complexity of these issues will be acknowledged, and confounding factors highlighted.

Research interests

  • Community based natural resource management
  • Sustainable use and livelihoods
  • Social and ecological impacts of conservation policy and management
  • Political ecology of conservation and environmental issues
  • Human-wildlife conflict and approaches for coexistence
  • Pro-poor conservation and rural development

Education History

  • 2017-present: PhD Candidate on London NERC Doctoral Training Partnership
  • 2013-2014: MSc Biodiversity, Conservation and Management, University of Oxford
  • 2012: BSc Honours in Zoology, University of Cape Town
  • 2009-2011: BSc in Ecology and Environmental and Geographical Science, University of Cape Town

Honours, Awards & Funding

  • UK Government Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). PhD Studentship
  • Commonwealth Scholarship for MSc
  • Sam Cohen Trust Scholarship for BSc & BSc Honours
  • University of Cape Town Dean’s Merit list (2009-2012)

Additional Information

  • UK Research and Innovation Policy Fellowship with the Environmental Audit Select Committee, 2019
  • Research assistant on the Living Planet Index, Institute of Zoology, ZSL 2015-2017
  • Member of the Human Ecology Research Group (HERG)