I am a conservation biologist interested in tackling the problems that arise between large carnivores and people. I specialise in designing and implementing studies that seek to address real-world conservation issues facing large carnivores and proposing evidence-based solutions to these challenges.
My initial field studies started with grey wolves, then evolved around brown bears and latterly have expanded to include deeper engagement with remote rural communities. Currently, I am focused on helping to conserve clouded leopards, tigers, grey wolves and bears.
Over the years, I have worked with researchers, communities and policy makers to encourage the long-term coexistence of large carnivores and people in Greece, Turkey, Georgia, US, Romania and Nepal. I am a member of the governing council of International Association for Bear Research and Management and member of IUCN Wolf, Bear, Hyaena, Canid, and Deer Specialist Groups. I joined WildCRU in 2011.
The most influential person on my career has been Dr Jacques Cousteau, the famous French oceanographer and filmmaker. When I was a child, watching his documentaries was always a big family event. I grew up watching Captain Cousteau (as we used to call him at home) exploring the world’s waters and marine life aboard the RV Calisto; his research ship equipped with an amazing laboratory for underwater research. It is still something of a mystery how I ended up working on terrestrial animals, but perhaps this is because I particularly love mountains and winter habitats. Later in life, when I was in high school, I came across another major influence on my life in the form of a second hand book by a German/French philosopher called Dr Albert Schweitzer. It transpired that Dr Schweitzer had won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952 for the philosophy expressed in his book entitled “Reverence for Life” which has ever since been my motto for life.
I am currently working to answer the following questions:
1) Where do clouded leopards exist in Nepal?
2) How can we improve the way we locate, track and monitor tigers in the wild?
3) How does human-wolf interaction differ in people’s culture in Central Asia in comparison to Western culture and can this information guide us in planning the future of large carnivore conservation?
Areas of Professional Activity
Prior to joining WildCRU, I was a research fellow at CIHEAM, France and MAICh, Greece, worked for WWF Turkey and Birdlife Turkey, undertook research with USGS Minnesota Wolf Project, WWF (US, Netherlands, Turkey, and Georgia offices), UNDP, Council of Europe and World Animal Protection.
My professional activities can be grouped into three main areas:
1. Exploration and discovery: Going into poorly explored areas really fascinates me, as you never know what you will find and what scientific surprises you will uncover. Together with my collaborators, I have documented the presence of clouded leopard in Langtang Himalayas in Nepal in 2014, presence of Caucasian leopard in Turkey in 2009 and presence of striped hyaena in Turkey in 2001. These discoveries changed what we think we know about the status of those species and initiated on the ground conservation efforts towards them.
2. Science-policy dialogue and advocacy: Since 1997, I have acted as an scientific advisor for the national wildlife authority in Turkey where my efforts contributed towards the removal of the official “pest species” status for the wolf and gained the “protected species” status for the striped hyaena and leopard; development of a new wildlife legislation; initiation of a national large mammal monitoring program and habitat restoration for wildlife. I also contributed towards to the development of an international conservation action plan for the Caucasus Ecoregion (Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Iran and Russia) and for the Caucasian leopard.
3. Conservation leadership and capacity building: I believe in developing projects by working with local researchers, communities and national wildlife authorities, and inspiring people through their (and my) actions to increase both their capacity and ambition. My efforts have ranged from introducing modern camera-traps and GPS-Satellite telemetry into Turkey to conducting the first systematic camera-trapping survey in the Himalayas in Nepal. I contributed to the IUCN network in Central Asia as co-chair of IUCN South Asia Brown Bear Expert Team and nurtured the establishment of the IUCN Human-Bear Conflict Expert Team.
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For Potential Collaborators and Supporters
If you are interested in collaboration, please send me a one-page project concept explaining what you are interested in, why this is important, and how you propose to fund and conduct the study. If you are interested in supporting my work please contact me directly via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch with WildCRU.