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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)


    Academic background

    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. Following completion of a D.Phil in environmental history (University of Oxford) in 2010, I was awarded Junior Research Fellowships by St Antony’s College, Oxford (2010-2012) and Imperial College London (2012-2015). For the first six months of 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). I am a member of the IUCN Task Force on Human Wildlife Conflict, and of 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 (with George Powell, and in collaboration with Dr Allan Woodward and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and Dr Yusuke Fukuda of the Department of Land Resource Management in Northern Territory, Australia); 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 published in my booklet Don’t get eaten by a crocodile: in South Africa or Swaziland (2015).

    My other research interests include the challenges of interdisciplinarity, cultural histories of humans and predators (especially reptiles), the history of wildlife conservation, environmental histories of wildfire, and biological invasions (especially in Mediterranean-type regions).


  • I teach environmental science for environmental management to MSc and undergraduate students at Birkbeck, and am developing a 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 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
  • 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, 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, available online as early view), 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.
  • 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.
  • Media
  • My research on crocodile attacks features on BBC Earth at:
  • Insight feature, ‘Importance of fire for fynbos a reality’, Cape Times newspaper, 6 March 2015:
  • ‘Ebola and Bushmeat’, letter to New Scientist, with John Fa and Robert Nasi, published 1 October 2014, issue 2989.

Professional membership

  • Member, IUCN Task Force on Human Wildlife Conflict
  • Member, IUCN Crocodile Specialist Group
  • Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society
  • Member of the Royal Historical 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

  • I have received grants from TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities) in 2015; an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Impact Acceleration Award (2014); the IUCN-SSC Crocodile Specialist Group (2011); the Beit Fund, University of Oxford (2007, 2008, 2009); Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) doctoral funding (2007-2010); St Antony’s College, Oxford (2009); and the Royal Historical Society (2009). I was awarded a Junior Research Fellowship by Imperial College London (2012-2015) and also by St Antony’s College, University of Oxford (2010-2012).


  • I have a paper in press with Conservation Biology, co-authored with an exciting team of interdisciplinary researchers who gathered at a TORCH-funded workshop I convened at WildCRU headquarters in Oxfordshire, which will encourage new thinking and cross disciplinary collaborations on human-predator relations.
    In December 2016, I was interviewed as part of a BBC World Service/Wellcome Trust event ‘Living with Animals’, which will be broadcast in April 2017.
    In January 2017 I was re-elected to membership of the new IUCN Task Force on Human Wildlife Conflict chaired by Dr Alexandra Zimmermann.
Contact details

Department of Geography

Room 405, 32 Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9EZ


Twitter: @s_pooley