David Macdonald

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Professor David Macdonald, Director: Wildlife Conservation Research Unit.

"I am Director of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at Oxford University. I conceived, and implemented, the appeal which led to the foundation in 1986 of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, and the associated Senior Research Fellowship at Lady Margaret Hall; this was the first Fellowship in any British university dedicated to biological conservation, and the WildCRU became the first such research unit. Its aim was, and remains, to undertake original research on aspects of fundamental biology relevant to solving practical problems of wildlife conservation and environmental management, and thus to underpin policy formation and public debate of the many issues that surround the conservation of wildlife and its habitats.

"I have directed the WildCRU since its foundation and, a decade later, on the publication of the first WildCRU Review in 1996 the Unit was widely said to be the largest and most productive of its sort in the Old World. In 2003 I negotiated a bequest worth c £3m for the establishment of a new WildCRU international centre for conservation at Tubney House and associated grounds of 15ha. Now the WildCRU comprises a highly motivated and inter-disciplinary team of over 50 conservationists, and I am leading an appeal for £5m to secure the long-term future of its work.

"My research interests range broadly across diverse topics in wildlife conservation and management, both in the UK and around the world. Nonetheless, from my early work on red foxes, I retain an emphasis on Carnivores in particular and mammals in general. I have worked on meerkats in the Kalahari, mink in Belarus, capybaras in Venezuela, crab-eating foxes in Brazil, proboscis monkeys in Borneo, jackals in Israel, amongst others, and studied creatures in the UK ranging from badgers to wood mice! Arising from these varied interests, I have published over 300 papers in refereed international journals, and written or edited more than a dozen books – of which the most recent: Key Topics in Conservation Biology (published by Blackwells in 2006) explains a lot about the WildCRU’s priorities.

"I am committed to outreach to a wide public; in addition to writing and film-making, in the last 5 years I have, for instance, published 7 book-sized technical reports on behalf of government or NGOs, helped create a volunteer training scheme (part of which trains rehabilitated addicts in mammal monitoring (for which we shared the 2001 Finance Charities Environmental Award), created a successful, funded internship training scheme, a business and biodiversity programme involving workshops and publications and helped create a tribal theatre group that has performed conservation dramas to 2,500 Zimbabwean village children. In terms of public understanding of science, my books have twice won the Natural World Natural History Author of the Year Award (with Running with the Fox and with European Mammals), and been best sellers (e.g The Velvet Claw, a natural history of carnivores, BBC Books), and the third edition of my Encyclopaedia of Mammals is published by OUP in 2006. Of my TV documentaries, The Night of the Fox was BAFTA finalist for Best Documentary of the Year, Meerkats United won a Special Award from WildScreen, and the 7-part BBC1 series Velvet Claw was broadcast in every television of the world. I am also committed to translating evidence into policy, and currently serve on the Board of Natural England, the Council of English Nature and I am Chairman of the Advisory Committee of the Darwin Initiative for the Conservation of Biodiversity. I am, or have been, Vice President of the Wildlife Trusts, the Zoological Society of London and the RSPCA, and am a Trustee of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust. For 25 years I was the founding Chairman of the IUCN/SSC Canid Specialist Group. I am very proud to have been the A.D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University, a Visiting Professor at Imperial College, an Emeritus Fellow of the IUCN’s Survival Service Commission and, in 2005, to have won the Dawkins Prize for Conservation and Animal Welfare. In 2006 I was awarded the American Society of Mammalogists' Merriam Prize for research in mammalogy, and in 2007 The Mammal Society of Great Britain's equivalent medal. I was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in March 2008...

"I have served on, or chaired, a variety of committees. Important current examples include:" [1]


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Related Sourcewatch articles


  1. David Macdonald, WildCRU, accessed April 25, 2009.
  2. Earthwatch Board, organizational web page, accessed June 20, 2012.