Earthwatch Scientist, Stewart Thompson, Ph.D.

Stewart Thompson, Ph.D.

Emeritus Professor in Biodiversity Conservation
Oxford Brookes University/Center for Ecosystem Restoration, Kenya/Change-a-Life Bwindi, Uganda

I am a British landscape ecologist teaching and researching applied conservation management for the last 35 years. As an academic, I was an undergraduate Lecturer in Ecology and Conservation Biology, a postgraduate Lecturer in Environmental Impact Assessment & Conservation Ecology, and a Faculty postgraduate tutor. I have recently retired from my academic role, which allowed me to operate in an advisory capacity for landscape-scale conservation projects in East Africa. Throughout my career, I have initiated and delivered various applied conservation management projects, all of which I have endeavored to translate into practical conservation management tools. In my university position, I was the Director of a research cluster whose work explored the linkages between wildlife protection mechanisms/policies and landscape scale ecology, the effects of land-use change on wildlife, threatened species conservation in developing countries, and the relationship between wildlife tourism and human-wildlife conflict resolution.

Why are you interested in your research focus?

Simply put, my research focuses on how animals respond to measures that seek to enhance their conservation status. These measures are usually a hybrid of a policy or strategy that leads to on-the-ground applied conservation management. For the last 12 years, I have collected data in several wildlife conservancies in the Maasai Mara, specifically focusing on the hoofed animal populations to develop a long-term understanding of how their population sizes and distribution patterns are changing. The findings from this research are used to make changes to existing management regimes and direct future wildlife conservancy management policies.

What is one of your favorite moments in the field?

A tough one, as I have been very privileged down the years! For much of my career, I have led field-based courses for university students in various projects/countries where I have conducted my research. For more than 20 years, I have regularly visited the breathtaking Ranthambhore tiger reserve in Rajasthan, India, where I have also been looking at hoofed animal populations. The reserve is world-famous for its wildlife and tiger population. For me, there is simply nothing better than showing people tigers in the wild for the first time, a cocktail of awe, joy, and slight trepidation all at once.


I graduated in 1989 with a BSc (Hons) in Environmental Studies (Ecology) from the University of Hertfordshire, going on to obtain my Ph.D. from Oxford Brookes University in 1994, where I researched the status of ecology in the British environmental impact assessment process.

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