Interdisciplinary Conservation Network Workshop 2020/2021

The Interdisciplinary Conservation Network (ICN) event format is one which has been successfully implemented over several years by the Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science. The aim of an ICN is to provide Early Career Researchers (ERCs) with an opportunity to develop collaborative research, while learning key skills for the development of their careers. Through the design, planning and implementation of an ICN, ERCs can build new networks, skills and produce relevant outputs for their research. A few senior researchers will join the event to deliver key capacity-building and mentorship sessions at the workshop.

ICN 2020-21 aims to create a platform for early career researchers, primarily focusing on wildlife trade, to develop and lead their own collaborative research projects, gain useful skills, and build a stronger network. ICN 2020-21 has also served a unique and valuable function during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing a space for participants to meet and collaborate online with colleagues internationally despite travel restrictions – which helps maintain social connectivity between otherwise isolated participants and allows participants to continue their overall career development despite a general dearth in current opportunities.

ICN 2020-21 is organised by the Oxford Martin Programme on Wildlife Trade and the Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science, in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit and the Oxford Brookes University Wildlife Trade Research Group. This event showcases the strong and diverse range of research on the unsustainable and illegal wildlife trade being carried out within Oxford and brings the key research groups working on the topic together.

International Conservation and Sustainability: The Role of UK Higher Education

Following an introduction from Professor Richard Davies, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Global, at Newcastle University, our high profile guests from the CBD Secretariat, UNEP, the UK government, industries and academia will be discussing how we can best harness the UK’s unique expertise in people-oriented conservation science to support the development of principles, policies and practices that meet CBD goals in the UK and partner countries, in an equitable, socially-just and inclusive way.

As part of this event, E.J. Milner-Gulland, Tasso Leventis Professor of Biodiversity at the University of Oxford, Co-Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Wildlife Trade and founder of the CASCADE initiative, chaired a panel of high-level end-users of academic input on environmental issues.

This event, co-hosted with the All Party Parliamentary Group on International Conservation, was held for the launch of an exciting new partnership among UK higher education institutions (HEIs). This partnership, CASCADE*, aims to use the country’s world-leading expertise in people-focused biodiversity conservation to support the development of principles, policies and practices that meet biodiversity goals in the UK and globally in an equitable, socially-just and inclusive way.


More information on the event:

Watch the launch recording:

More information on CASCADE:

*CASCADE = Conservation and Sustainability Consortium of Academic Institutions

Documentary Screening: Orchid Hunters (Cazadores de Orquídeas)

Orchid Hunters

In the 19th century, a disease spread through the vast tulip crops that supported the Dutch economy. This event triggered a frantic search for wild flowers to supply the fast growing European flower market.

In this documentary, orchid hunters tell the story of hundreds of collectors with scientific interest, like Humboldt or Mutis, or businessmen like Chesterton or Millican, who went to New Granada in search of orchids and documented their trips. Filled with amazing anecdotes, stories of looting, shipwrecks and deaths, these stories are mostly unknown to the public.

The story of orchid hunters in the new world is an historical testimony showing the pillage that tropical forests have been facing. This journey through history is narrated in parallel with the way orchids are grown and studied nowadays.

Documentary in Spanish with English subtitles.

All welcome to attend if registered (free) here:

Please arrive at 16:15 to sign-in before the screening which will start promptly at 16:30. No entry after 17:00.

1-hour screening followed by a 30-minute Q&A session with Dr Tatiana Arias, specialist in Colombian orchid’s genetic biodiversity and conservation.


Protecting Colombia’s extraordinary Orchid Biodiversity: Horticulture and biotechnology as strategies for in-situ and ex-situ conservation

Colombia has the highest number of endemic orchids worldwide and some remain unknown to science. Orchids are flagship species that can help promote Andean forests conservation and ecosystem services but many species are endemic to restricted regions and threatened by rapid habitat loss and low tolerance to climatic changes. While private collectors have impressive ex-situ living collections and abundant natural history data, this information is not currently organized or accessible. The lack of basic knowledge and in-situ conservation status of many species is truly worrisome.

This talk aims to communicate an initiative taking place among two Colombian institutions — The Center for Biological Research and the Colombian Orchid Society — which is implementing a program for the orchids conservation through in-situ and ex-situ conservation, integrating the use of technology with active participation of communities, including:

  • Advancing phylogenomic studies and population genetics in groups with high endemism and diversity in Colombia (Cymbideae tribe, and the genera Lepanthes, Dracula and Masdevallia);
  • Implementing a virtual herbarium of living collections and genetic material at Humboldt Institute’s tissue bank;
  • Monitoring orchids using technology (provided by a UK NGO, Arribada Initiative) at La Reserva Orquídeas, in Antioquia;
  • And understanding the legal and illegal orchid trade in Colombia.

These activities are being carried out through participatory science and will also allow to promote conservation and sustainable use for many species as established by the Colombia Orchid Conservation Strategy.

All welcome to attend this seminar.

Dr Tatiana Arias is interested in the study of Colombian orchid’s genetic biodiversity and conservation. Tatiana has a PhD in Biological Sciences from the University of Missouri and, after graduating, she accepted a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at The University of Hong Kong. Tatiana is now the leader of the Comparative Biology group at The Center for Biological Research (CIB) in Medellin, Colombia. She has recently been awarded the Young Colombian Scientist distinction by the Colombian Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences and the World Academy of Sciences (TWAS). Tatiana is currently an Oxford Visiting Fellow at the Oxford Martin Programme on the Illegal Wildlife Trade and a trained Plant Scientist.

Follow Tatiana on Twitter: @TatianaAriasGar

Seminar – Tackling the Illegal Wildlife Trade from China’s Epicentre

Prof Tien Ming LeeThe illegal wildlife trade undermines our global commitment to protect threatened biodiversity. Being a key destination in Asia, China needs to play a leading role in reducing demand for illegal wildlife products so as to reverse the unsustainable trend. During this talk Ming will discuss ongoing projects that his team are working on from Guangzhou, where they are based, which is widely considered as the epicenter of illegal wildlife trade in Mainland China. He will draw on the team’s interdisciplinary approaches to tackle these complex illegal wildlife trade challenges. Partnering with local and international groups (including  Oxford Martin Programme on the Illegal Wildlife Trade and Wildlife Conservation Society), they hope to develop data-informed strategies by understanding the domestic trends and drivers of wildlife trade in China, the dynamics of local medicinal and wildlife markets, and the motivation and behaviour of local and overseas Chinese consumers of wildlife products.

To register and for more information:

To watch the live webcast see below or:

All welcome to attend this one-hour seminar.

Ming is an Oxford Martin Visiting Fellow on the Oxford Martin Programme on the Illegal Wildlife Trade and a trained conservation scientist. He defended his PhD thesis at the University of California. He completed two fellowships from Columbia and Yale Universities (Earth Institute) and Princeton University (Woodrow Wilson School).

Taking a break from academia, he worked as a data scientist in an NYC educational technology company. In 2017, he started a prestigious professorship position at the Department of Ecology and Evolution at Sun Yat-sen University, China. His team takes interdisciplinary and novel approaches to address illegal wildlife trade and sustainability issues in China.

Seminar – Illegal Wildlife Trade in Africa

In conjunction with the Africa Oxford Initiative and the Interdiscplinary Centre for Conservation Science, we are pleased to welcome you to our seminar on the Illegal Wildlife Trade in Africa.

Join us for this unique opportunity to hear from five leading African conservationists who will be talking about their work to halt the illegal wildlife trade on the continent.

Each researcher will be talking about the challenges of carrying out conservation in their countries and the different solutions they are employing to help. Short presentations will be followed by a panel discussion, and the event will close with a poster session and time to meet the speakers.


  • Gathering the Evidence for Action: Ghana’s Pangolin Trade presented by Kofi Amponsah-Mensah, Centre for African Wetlands, University of Ghana. Find out more here.
  • Towards Sustainable Wildlife Conservation: A Case Study of Wildlife Crimes in Two Major Protected Areas and Adjacent Communities in Zimbabwe presented by Edson Gandiwa, School of Wildlife, Ecology and Conservation, Chinhoyi University of Technology, Zimbabwe. Find out more here.
  • Decline of the wild ploughshare tortoise caused by its illegal international trade presented by Angelo Ramy Mandimbihasina, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Madagascar. Find out more here.
  • Enhanced Equity and Governance, Reduced Illegal Resource Use at Uganda Protected Areas presented by Medard Twinamatsiko, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Uganda. Find out more here.
  • A Roaring Trade? Traditional Medicine and the Illegal Trade in Wildlife in Southern Africa presented by Vivienne L. Williams, School of Animal, Plant & Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. Find out more here.

All welcome to attend this seminar. Book your participation here (drinks and nibbles will be available).

Seminar – Reframing the conservation narrative by embracing conservation science: Perspectives from Zimbabwe

The complexity of contemporary wildlife conservation emanates from the fact that there are different ways in which people perceive conservation issues. Furthermore, there seems to be competing conservation agendas at various at levels from local to global platforms. The existence of different levels of influence and capacities to negotiate and resist or promote certain policy propositions exacerbates this complexity. In most developing countries endowed with wildlife species, it is acknowledged that conservation can be a success if people support conservation goals. Crucially, getting the support of people requires a paradigm shift in attitudes, perceptions and behaviours of both the people living with the resource as well as those responsible for management and decision-making in conservation.

In this talk, I will explore a paradigm shift that has occurred in the philosophy of wildlife conservation and how this shapes current and future approaches to conservation, using Zimbabwe as a case study. First, I will give a brief outline of the conservation setting in Zimbabwe and situate it within a conservation science perspective. Second, the role that conservation science can play in answering the following key questions will be explored:

  1. how conservation sustainability in human mediated landscapes could be attained;
  2. ways in which conservation beyond biodiversity could be promoted to achieve economic development, poverty alleviation and environmental justice;
  3. various approaches of engaging corporations and conservationists for partnerships;
  4. options aimed at jointly maximising conservation and economic objectives to accelerate progress in conservation initiatives.

I will conclude the talk by suggesting strategies that conservationists and practitioners in Zimbabwe could embrace to achieve sustainability.

All welcome to attend this seminar.

Victor K. Muposhi worked as a Teaching Assistant from 2006 to 2009 in the Wildlife Unit of the Environmental Science Dept., Bindura University of Science Education and then as a lecturer in the Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Dept., Chinhoyi University of Technology. Currently he is a staff development fellow with Chinhoyi University of Technology for a Doctor of Philosophy in Conservation Biology. His research is focusing on the molecular and ecological trade-offs of trophy hunting and their implications on conservation of wildlife species in Zimbabwe.

Seminar: Europe’s Largest Wildlife Crime: trafficking of the European Eel

The European Eel has been in decline for well over 100 years however the last 30 as seen a sharp increase and so triggered its endangered status. There are many causes and no silver bullet. Habitat loss is significant especially of Wetlands and here in UK there is only some 20% left. Blocked migration pathways are a big issues with 1.3 million barriers to the rivers of Europe and of course the 25,000 hydropower stations. Over fishing is clearly a cause too and the revelations of early April 2018 of the enormous scale have shocked the eel community – EUROPOL believe 100 tons or 350 million eels are being trafficked annually to Asia. This is one quarter of the annual recruitment. The major countries are France then Spain and Portugal. The Sustainable Eel Group (SEG) aims to create impact for healthy wild eel populations to support their role in aquatic environments and sustainable use for the benefit of communities, local economies and traditions. Please see the SEG’s latest report on eel trafficking for more information on this subject.

Andrew Kerr (Chairman, Sustainable Eel Group) has always had a passion for wildlife – from playing with the monkeys in his family garden in the mid 1950’s in Singapore to today where he champions a sustainable solution to enable the recovery of the critically endangered European Eel. Andrew has a wide range of experience, having been a soldier and grounded in commerce perspectives working for Clarks Shoes and ran his own management consultancy specialising in organisational and management development for 25 years. He became involved in conservation, professionally through U.K.’s Wildlife Trusts where he held Chairman positions for Gloucestershire and then South West. In 2010, after speaking at the UK’s first eel conference, Andrew formed the SEG to bring together Science, Conservation and Commercial interests into one united European wide movement.

All welcome to attend this seminar.

2018 IWT Event

#IWT18 bannerWe are thrilled to announce the event, Evidence to Action: Research to Address Illegal Wildlife, jointly organised by Oxford Martin Programme on the Illegal Wildlife Trade (OMP-IWT), BIOSEC University of SheffieldLancaster Environment Centre, the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, the Institute of Zoology (IOZ). The meeting will be held prior to the 2018 London IWT Conference.

Use #IWT18 and #Research4IWT to spread the word!

The event will bring together researchers and end-users from across all sectors working on IWT, to find new ways of working together to tackle this complex topic. Research plays a central role in finding real-world solutions to the challenges posed by IWT, in ways that are evidence-based, and effective.

Event objectives

  • Underline the importance of evidence in effectively tackling IWT and showcase existing research with real-world impact
  • Promote cross-sector collaboration to use reliable evidence to increase the effectiveness of IWT actions
  • Provide policy-relevant and evidence-based suggestions on how to tackle IWT

Call for Contributions

This Evidence to Action event will cover the full range of areas in which research can support action, explicitly reaching across IWT stakeholder groups to learn from experience and build collaborations that can inform policy and action. We aim to be inclusive and seek a diversity of approaches and perspectives. We are calling for expressions of interest in contributing to the programme of this key event.

Follow @IWTnet on Twitter for updates

Email for questions about the event

More information

Seminar: Intelligence-led forensic science: Combatting the illegal ivory trade amidst a burgeoning world market

Major transnational organized crimes have increased dramatically in the past decade, coincident with increases in legal containerized cargo shipped worldwide. The illegal ivory trade is no exception. Sam Wasser will describe his use of genetic tools to identify the source of Africa’s major ivory poaching hotspots, as well as the number, scale and location of its major ivory export cartels. These tools are enabling law enforcement to target the illegal ivory trade before the contraband enters transit where it becomes far more difficult and expensive to trace.

Samuel Wasser holds the endowed chair in Conservation Biology at the University of Washington, where he is a Professor in the Department of Biology and Director of the Center for Conservation Biology. His lab is world renown for pioneering highly accessible noninvasive genetic and physiological tools for monitoring human impacts on the environment over large spatial scales, including the use of detection dogs. His forensic work is best known for identifying the two major ivory poaching hotpots in Africa. This work involved collaboration with numerous national and international government organizations, including the CITES Secretariat, INTERPOL, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, US Department of Homeland Security Investigations, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Kenya’s Directorate of Criminal Investigation and the World Bank.

All welcome to attend this seminar.