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Dr Simon Pooley

Lambert Lecturer in Environment (Applied Herpetology)

BA (University of Natal)

MA (University of Cape Town)

MA (Birkbeck)

D.Phil (University of Oxford)


  • I am the Lambert Lecturer in Environment (Applied Herpetology) at Birkbeck University of London.
  • I am a visiting researcher (Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, WildCRU) at the University of Oxford.
  • Previously, I was a lecturer and course co-director in conservation science at Imperial College London. I completed my D.Phil in environmental history (University of Oxford) in 2010, going on to do Junior Research Fellowships at St Antony’s College, Oxford (2010-2012) and Imperial College London (2012-2015).
  • My research interests are inherently interdisciplinary and range across the fields of animal geography, historical geography, environmental humanities (history in particular), ethnozoology and conservation science. What they all have in common is an engagement with the conservation of biodiversity and human wellbeing and cultural diversity, and an interest in applying research to real world challenges.
  • A current focus is interdisciplinary research on human-predator encounters, and in particular the crocodilians. I serve on the IUCN Task Force on Human Wildlife Conflict, and the IUCN Crocodile Specialist Group.
  • My research interests include: mapping social and ecological dimensions of human-crocodile encounters in space and time; testing theories on the influence of biophysical factors on the seasonality of crocodilian bites on humans; and infographics as a means of exploring and communicating about conflictual human-predator relations. My infographics based on my crocodile research in southern Africa can be viewed at: and are being distributed in the region as printed booklets and posters.
  • My other research interests include the challenges of interdisciplinarity, cultural histories of humans and reptiles, the history of wildlife conservation, environmental histories of wildfire, and biological invasions in Mediterranean-type regions.


  • I am excited to be teaching a new module from 2018/19, entitled Global Nature Conservation. You can see a course outline here.
  • I teach environmental science for environmental management to MSc and undergraduate students at Birkbeck, convening the MSc module Environmental Science for Environmental Management, and the undergraduate module Managing Environments.
  • I have previously tutored and taught on a wide variety of subjects, ranging from Conservation Science (at Imperial College London); through Global and Imperial History, South African history, and African environments (at Oxford); to Race, ethnicity and nationalism (at Sussex).
  • I became a Fellow of The Higher Education Academy in July 2016.


  • I am interested in supervising research on human-predator relations (AKA human-wildlife conflicts); on collecting, analysing, visualising and communicating data on human-predator interactions; ethnozoology; conceptions on Nature in the Anthropocene; the history of wildlife conservation and conservation science; the uses and abuses of history and historical data in ecology and conservation science; critical thinking on biological invasions and restoration ecology; and wildfire.


  • Books:
    • Queiroz and S. Pooley (eds), 2018, Histories of Bioinvasions in the Mediterranean (Springer).
    • S. Pooley, 2014, Burning Table Mountain: An environmental history of fire on the Cape Peninsula (Palgrave Macmillan), South African edition published by University of Cape Town (UCT) Press in 2015
    • W. Beinart, K. Middleton, S. Pooley (ed.s), 2013, Wild Things: Nature and the Social Imagination (White Horse Press)
  • Book chapters:
    • S. Pooley and Ana Isabel Queiroz, ‘Introduction: historical perspectives on bioinvasions in the Mediterranean region. Pages 1-19 in: A. Queiroz and S. Pooley (eds.) Histories of Bioinvasions in the Mediterranean (Springer).
    • S. Pooley, 2018, The long and entangled history of humans and invasive introduced plants on South Africa’s Cape Peninsula. Pages 219-251 in: A. Queiroz and S. Pooley (eds.) Histories of Bioinvasions in the Mediterranean (Springer).
    • S. Pooley, 2014, ‘Invasion of the Crocodiles,’ in Iain McCalman, Jodi Frawley (eds.) Rethinking Invasion Ecologies from the Environmental Humanities (Routledge Environmental Humanities)
    • S. Pooley, 2013, ‘No Tears for the Crocodile: investigating calls for the extermination of the Nile crocodile in Zululand, South Africa, to c.1958’, book chapter in W. Beinart, K. Middleton, S. Pooley (ed.s), Wild Things: Nature and the Social Imagination (White Horse Press)
    • S. Pooley, 2011, ‘Fire and Loathing in the Fynbos’, book chapter in I.D. Rotherham, R.A. Lambert (ed.s), Invasive and Introduced Plants and Animals: Human Perceptions, Attitudes and Approaches to Management (Earthscan)
    • S. Pooley, 2010, ‘Histories of fire in South Africa’s Cape Floral Region’, in S. Mosley, G. Massard-Guilbaud (ed.s), Common Ground, Integrating the Social and Environmental in History (Cambridge Scholars)
  • Journal articles:
    • 2018, S. Pooley, ‘Descent with modification: critical use of historical evidence for conservation,’ Conservation Letters. Early View: DOI: 10.1111/conl.12437
    • 2018, S. Pooley, ‘Speaking up for collaboration in conservation: A response to Vucetich et al. (2018) Just conservation: What is it and should we pursue it?’ Letter to the Editor. Biological Conservation, 223, 186-187.
    • 2018, S. Pooley, ‘Fire, smoke and expertise in South Africa’s grasslands’, Environmental History, 23:1, 28-55.
    • 2017, S. Pooley, M. Barua, W. Beinart, A. Dickman, G. Holmes, J. Lorimer, A.J. Loveridge, D.W. Macdonald, G. Marvin, S. Redpath, C. Sillero-Zubiri, A. Zimmermann and E.J. Milner-Gulland, ‘An interdisciplinary review of current and future approaches to improving human-predator relations’, Conservation Biology 31(3), 513-523.
    • 2017, S. Redpath, J. Linnell, M. Festa-Bianchet, L. Boitani, N. Bunnefeld, A. Dickman, R. Gutiérrez, R. Irvine, M. Johansson, A. Majić, B. McMahon, S. Pooley, C. Sandström, A. Sjölander-Lindqvist , K. Skogen, J. Swenson, A. Trouwborst, J. Young, E.J. Milner-Gulland, ‘Don’t forget to look down – collaborative approaches to predator conservation,’ Biological Reviews.
    • 2016, S. Pooley, ‘A Cultural herpetology of Nile crocodiles in Africa’, Conservation & Society, 14: 4, 391-405.
    • 2016, S. Pooley, ‘The entangled relations of humans and Nile crocodiles in Africa, c.1840-1992’, Environment and History, 33:2, 421-454.
    • 2015, S. Pooley, ‘Endangered’, Environmental Humanities, 7, 259-263.
    • 2015, S. Pooley, ‘Using predator attack data to save lives, human and crocodilian’, Oryx: The International Journal of Conservation, 49, 581-583.
    • 2015, S. Pooley, John E. Fa, Robert Nasi, ‘No conservation silver lining to Ebola’, Conservation Biology, 29:3, 965–967.
    • 2014, S. Pooley, J. Andrew Mendelsohn and E.J. Milner-Gulland, ‘Hunting down the chimera of multiple disciplinarity in conservation science’, Conservation Biology, 28:1, 22–32.
    • 2013, S. Pooley, ‘Historians are from Venus, Ecologists are from Mars,’ Conservation Biology, 27:6, 1481-3.
    • 2012, S. Pooley, ‘Recovering the lost history of fire in South Africa’s fynbos, c.1910-90’, Environmental History, 17 (January), 55-83.
    • 2010, S. Pooley, ‘Pressed Flowers: ideas about alien and indigenous plants at the Cape, c.1902–45’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 36: 3, 599–618.
    • 2009, S. Pooley, ‘Jan van Riebeeck as pioneering explorer and conservator of natural resources at the Cape of Good Hope (165262)’, Environment and History, 15, 3–33.
  • Other:
  • Radio, newspapers and social media:

Professional membership

  • Member, IUCN Task Force on Human Wildlife Conflict
  • Member, IUCN Crocodile Specialist Group
  • Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society
  • Research Associate, Centre for World Environmental History, University of Sussex
  • Member, European Society for Environmental History
  • Member, Society for Conservation Biology

Honours and awards

  • 2017: Birkbeck/Wellcome Institutional Strategic Support Fund Early Career Fellowship
  • 2015: TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities)
  • 2014: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Impact Acceleration Award
  • 2012-2015, Junior Research Fellowship, Imperial College London
  • 2011: IUCN-SSC Crocodile Specialist Group research award
  • 2010-2012: Junior Research Fellowship, St Antony’s College, Oxford
  • 2007, 2008, 2009: Beit Fund, University of Oxford
  • 2007-2010: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) doctoral funding
  • 2009: St Antony’s College, Oxford, travel grant
  • 2009: Royal Historical Society travel grant.


  • In July 2017 I was awarded a Birkbeck/Wellcome Institutional Strategic Support Fund Early Career Fellowship to pursue my research on human wildlife interactions.
  • In May 2018 my co-edited book (with Ana Isabel Queiroz) entitled Histories of Bioinvasions in the Mediterranean was published online by Springer, with the physical book to be launched in June.
  • In May 2018 I presented my research, and led a working meeting on human crocodilian conflicts, at the 25th IUCN Crocodile Specialist Group working group meeting in Santa Fe, Argentina.
  • On 25 May 2018 I presented a screening of the wildlife documentary Ndumu: the story of crocodile survival in South Africa, at Birkbeck’s cinema as part of BIMI’s programme of events. It features my father Tony Pooley’s conservation work and research on Nile crocodiles, and was the first screening in the UK. I also noted publication of the 2nd. Edition of Tony’s book Discoveries of a Crocodile Man, which I edited and published.

Contact details:

Room 405

Department of Geography

32 Tavistock Sq.

London, WC1H 9EZ


Tel: 020 3073 8440