Nature’s processes take time, but many conservation science projects are constrained by their short duration. WildCRU specialises in long-running studies, each successive year of continuity increasing the value of the accumulated data.
Our core research draws on a wide range of natural science disciplines, including ecology, behaviour, epidemiology, genetics, parasitology, biochemistry and physiology. WildCRU’s recent recruits include environmental economists and development specialists. Our research is deliberately empirical, aimed at generating data through experimentation and observation. This integrated approach provides the necessary expertise for developing workable conservation solutions.
At WildCRU we are developing a special focus on felids – a focus which fits synergistically alongside our wider conservation research agenda. It is a special pleasure that we are developing this felid work in close collaboration with our partners in the Panthera Foundation and with support from the Recanati-Kaplan Foundation. Currently, we are working on 16 felid species, with projects from African lions to Brazilian jaguars, golden cats in Gabon to Botswanan cheetah, Scottish wildcats to Mongolian manul, and clouded leopards in Borneo and snow leopards in China. We are developing a systematic approach to prioritising our felid projects, and of the 16 species of cat we identify as top conservation priority, we are already working on 13.
WildCRU is particularly renowned for its longstanding specialisation in wild carnivores, which are frequently at the sharp end of conflict with people. For 25 years we have provided a base for the IUCN Canid Specialist Group, originally chaired by David Macdonald and now by our Travers Research Fellow, Claudio Sillero. The Group oversees the study and conservation of all 36 members of the wolf, dog and fox family. Our studies of badgers and mink are among the most extensive in the world.
However, our projects do not focus purely on carnivores. We also study other mammals, including rodents, bats, insectivores, ungulates and apes; birds, from the effects of El Niño on Galápagos penguins to the impact of farming on grey partridges in the UK; invertebrates such as butterflies, damselflies and crustaceans; and plants together with wider habitats.