Kasim Rafiq

All Disciplines Scholar Award, University of California, Santa Cruz - Conservative Biology

I am a wildlife researcher whose interests mainly centre around large carnivore ecology and conservation. My journey into large carnivore research was unpredicted. I followed up my undergraduate thesis on sperm competition in bean beetles by taking consecutive research assistant positions in Africa.  Here, I worked on a range of species, from large carnivores in northern Botswana to chacma baboons in the mountains of South Africa.  I went on to complete my Master’s research on leopard ecology at Durham University, and then spent two years in the Botswanan bush collecting my doctoral data, graduating from Liverpool John Moores University in 2019. It was during my recent time in Africa that I began to appreciate the scale and the depth of the data being collected everyday by wildlife tourists, and I went on to pilot a program to survey wildlife densities using tourist photographs.

My fellowship at UC Santa Cruz will build upon this work and by focusing on the intersections between conservation and technology will look to scale the project across other regions.  Along the way, I hope to bring the research skills and lessons learnt from African carnivores to American wildlife.