Document Actions

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, and 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). In early 2012 I was researcher on an AHRC Exploratory Award entitled Science, Humanities and Researching Problems of the Environment (SHARPEN).
  • 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.
  • My current focus is interdisciplinary research on human-predator encounters, and in particular the crocodilians. In 2015, I initiated an interdisciplinary discussion on human-predator relations at the University of Oxford, funded by The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH), resulting in our Pooley et al. 2017 review paper in Conservation Biology which sets out a vision for future work on this global challenge. I serve on the IUCN Task Force on Human Wildlife Conflict, and the IUCN Crocodile Specialist Group.
  • Related 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 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 Environmental Management, and I am developing an interdisciplinary module on conservation science for undergraduates. 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), (in press), 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 (in press), The long and entangled history of humans and invasive introduced plants on South Africa’s Cape Peninsula. 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:
    • 2017 (in press) Fire, smoke and expertise in South Africa’s grasslands. Environmental History.
    • 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 (in press), 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 April 2017 a BBC World Service/Wellcome Trust event ‘Living with Animals’ broadcast featured my work alongside two fellow panellists.
  • In April 2017 I gave the MIT Seminar on Environmental and Agricultural History, entitled ‘Historical perspectives on problematic human-wildlife encounters’.
  • In July 2017 I was awarded a Birkbeck/Wellcome Institutional Strategic Support Fund Early Career Fellowship to pursue my research on human wildlife interactions.

Contact details:

Room 405

Department of Geography

32 Tavistock Sq.

London, WC1H 9EZ


Tel: 020 3073 8440