Born and raised in Minnesota (USA), I am a conservation biologist with + 20 years of experience practicing the science and art of conservation around the world. I have a special interest in integrating interdisciplinary conservation science with rural development initiatives that achieve conservation at scale. I apply my theoretical and practical experience and expertise by (1) designing and delivering multi-stakeholder initiatives through an evidence-based, collaborative process that seeks to find common ground solutions for complex conservation challenges, (2) providing demand-driven technical outputs designed to improve decision-making and (3) sharing knowledge and skills through various modes of field-based teaching and training. Fundamental to my approach is applying a servant leadership perspective to help other aspiring conservationists and conservation teams achieve greater success and impact.
More specifically, my early interests in large carnivore conservation and coexistence work with wolves in Minnesota, grizzly bear in Alaska and tigers in China, led me to Namibia in 1999 where I conducted research on cheetah habitat and feeding ecology with the Cheetah Conservation Fund and Round River Conservation Studies. From there my interests evolved into a passion for the desert-adapted black rhinos which roam the remote and rugged wilderness of northwest Namibia, and Save the Rhino Trust (SRT), a well-established field-based organization in Namibia operating for over 40 years. In 2003 I accepted an invitation to serve as their Science Adviser which I continue to hold under part-time employment with the Minnesota Zoo Foundation. My applied research with SRT has helped inform a variety of innovative conservation and management policies including community-based monitoring programs, rhino re-introduction strategies, behavior change campaigns and science-based eco-tourism protocols. In addition to research, I have designed and delivered SRT’s training curriculum to hundreds of rangers and co-founded and currently continue to advise the award-winning Conservancy Rhino Ranger Programme and the Rhino Pride Campaign (see Project links below).
Recently, much of my focus has targeted scaling up our community-led rhino conservation and tourism model across Namibia as well as sharing the Namibian experience in other countries and contexts including China and Nepal. I hold an adjunct professorship at the Namibia University of Science and Technology, am an invited guest lecturer at the Beijing Forestry University, serve as a member of three IUCN Specialist Groups and the Namibia EAGL team member for IUCN Green List as well as a Conservation and Namibia Ambassador with the Transformational Travel Council and science adviser to Round River Conservation Studies. I first visited and was inspired by the pioneering conservation work by WildCRU during my formative years in 2001 and am thrilled to return as a research associate 20 years later.
Conservancy Rhino Ranger Incentive Programme: https://www.peoplenotpoaching.org/conservancy-rhino-ranger-incentive-program
Muntifering, J.R., A. Malherbe, L. Dax, P. Beytell (2023). From seeing to saving: how rhinoceros-based tourism in north-west Namibia strengthens local stewardship to help combat poaching. Frontiers in Sustainable Tourism: doi.org/10.3389/frsut.2022.1090309.
Muntifering, J.R., A. Guerera, P. Beytell, K. Stratford. (2023). Population parameters, performance and insights into factors influencing reproduction for black rhinoceros in Namibia. Oryx 1-11: doi:10.1017/S0030605322001065.
Naidoo, R., P. Beytell, A. Malherbe, A. Middleton, J. Birsch, and J.R. Muntifering (2021). Heterogeneous consumer preferences for local community involvement in nature-based tourism drive triple-bottom-line gains. Conservation Science and Practice: doi.org/10.1111/csp2.425
Cronin, D.T., S. Benbow, R.A. Bergl, E. Bourgault, L. Caro, A. Dancer, A. Davies, D. Joachim, C. Lewis, A.J. Lynam, J. Maaz, J.R. Muntifering, S. O’Donnell, J. Palmer, J. Slade, F. Spina Avino, X. Stevens, A. Wyatt. (2021). Empowering Rangers through Technology & Innovation. Parks Stewardship Forum 31(7): 196-205.
Muntifering, J.R (ed). 2019. Large-scale Rhino Conservation in north-west Namibia: engaging and empowering local people to protect rhino. Pp 86. Venture Publications, Windhoek, Namibia.
Muntifering J.R. & W. Linklater (2021). Designing evidence-based viewing protocols for sustainable wildlife encounters. In Handbook of Applied Research Tools for Sustainable Tourism: a guide for practitioners (ed A. Spenceley) Edward Elgar Publishers.
Muntifering J.R, S. Clark, W. L. Linklater, S. !Uri-≠Khob, E. Heback, J. Cloete, S. Jacobs & A. T. Knight. (2020). Lessons from a Wildlife Tourism Cooperative: the Namibian black rhinoceros case. Annals of Tourism Research, 82: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.annals.2020.102918
Naro, E.M., S. Maher, J.R. Muntifering, A. Eichenwald, & S.G. Clark. (2020). Syndicate recruitment, perceptions, and problem solving in Namibian rhinoceros protection. Biological Conservation 243: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2020.108481.
Muntifering J.R, W. L. Linklater, R. Naidoo, S. !Uri-≠Khob, P. Du Preez, P. Beytell, S. Jacobs and A. T. Knight. 2019. Black rhinoceros avoidance of tourist infra structure and activity: planning and managing for coexistence. Oryx: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0030605318001606
Muntifering J.R., M. Ditmer, S. Stapleton, R. Naidoo & T. Harris. 2019. Characterizing Hartmann’s mountain zebra resource selection and movement behavior within a large unprotected landscape in north-west Namibia. Endangered Species Research: 38:159-170. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00941
Muntifering J.R, W. L. Linklater, R. Naidoo, S. !Uri-≠Khob, P. Du Preez, P. Beytell, S. Jacobs and A. T. Knight. 2019. Sustainable Close Encounters: integrating animal and human behavior to build tourism viewing protocols. Animal Conservation, 22: 189-197. https://doi.org/10.1111/acv.12454
Muntifering J.R, W. L. Linklater, S. G. Clark, S. !Uri-≠Khob, J. K. Kasaona, K. /Uiseb, P. Du Preez, K. Kasaona, P. Beytell, J. Ketji, B. Hambo, M. A. Brown, C.Thouless, S. Jacobs and A. T. Knight. 2015. Harnessing values to save the rhinoceros: insights from Namibia. Oryx, 51(1): 98-105. https://doi:10.1017/S0030605315000769.
Muntifering, J.R., R. Tilson, P. Nyhus, M.E. Soulé. 2009. Tiger restoration and biodiversity refugia in Asia: picking up the pieces. In Tigers of the World: The science, politics and conservation of Panthera tigris, 2nd Edition, eds. Ronald Tilson and Philip Nyhus.
Tilson, R., Nyhus, P., and J.R. Muntifering. 2009. Yin and Yang of Tiger Conservation in China. In Tigers of the World: The science, politics and conservation of Panthera tigris, 2nd Edition, eds. Ronald Tilson and Philip Nyhus.
Qin Yiyuan, P. J. Nyhus, C. L. Larson, C. J.W. Carroll, J.R. Muntifering, T. D. Dahmer, Lu Jun, and R. L. Tilson. 2015. An assessment of South China tiger reintroduction potential in Hupingshan and Houhe National Nature Reserves, China. Biological Conservation 182: 72-86.
Brodie, J.F., J.R. Muntifering, M. E. Hearn, B. Loutit, R. Loutit, B. Brell, S.Uri-Khob, N. Leader-Williams, P. du Preez. 2011. Population recovery of black rhinoceros in northwest Namibia following poaching. Animal Conservation 14(4): 354-362.
Muntifering, J.R., A.J. Dickmann, L.M. Perlow, T. Hruska, P.G. Ryan, L.L. Marker, and R.M. Jeo. 2006. Managing the matrix for large carnivores: a novel approach and perspective from cheetah habitat suitability modeling. Animal Conservation 9: 103-112.
Tilson, R., H. Defu, J. R. Muntifering and P.J. Nyhus. 2003. Dramatic decline of wild South China tigers: Field survey of priority tiger reserves. Oryx 38: 40-47.
Marker, L.L., J. R. Muntifering, A.J. Dickman, M.G.L. Mills and D.W. Macdonald. 2003. Quantifying prey preferences of free-ranging Namibian cheetahs. South African Journal of Wildlife Research 33(1): 43-53.