Harriet Ibbett


Like many working and interested in wildlife conservation, my affinity with nature started as a child. I always preferred to be outside in the garden than inside watching TV.

I initially started volunteering with my local conservation group as an early teen. Whilst my initial motivation wasn’t entirely selfless (I needed to volunteer as part of a Duke of Edinburgh qualification…), a spark was quickly ignited and my interest swiftly grew. At the age of 16 I was fortunate enough to volunteer in Malawi, building and teaching in local schools. Whilst there I had the honour of viewing some of Africa’s most iconic big game species – a dream come true. I was also humbled by the spirit of local people, who despite the adversity of living in one of the poorest countries on earth, would never fail to smile. My early experience inspired me to pursue a degree in environmental geography and international development, where I enhanced my understanding of ecological and development principals.

Since graduating I have undertaken a range of roles which have focused on improving prospects for both biodiversity and local people.


Conservation is complicated. I realised early on that in order to tackle some of the challenges associated with conservation, conservationists need to involve people, and thus understanding local peoples’ motivations, attitudes and actions is critical for developing successful conservation initiatives. My most recent research has involved using novel social techniques, including indirect questioning, to quantify the prevalence of illegal activity and to identify the impact of such activity on endangered species and protected areas.


In 2016 I was appointed Research Assistant in Conservation Science on the NERC funded project Learning from observational data to improve protected area management’.

The aim of this three-year project is to combine insights from human-decision making, with advanced social and ecological monitoring, to improve both the understanding and effectiveness of management in protected areas. The project uses Seima Protection Forest in eastern Cambodia as a case study, and is a joint collaboration between Dr Aidan Keane (University of Edinburgh), Prof. E.J. Milner-Gulland (University of Oxford), Dr Colin Beale (University of York) and WCS Cambodia.

Find out more about Harriet's project here


2015-16               Fundraising Officer, Galapagos Conservation Trust
2015                       Data Analyst, WWF
2014-15               MSc Conservation Science, Imperial College London
2012-14               UK & International Projects Coordinator, Trees for Cities, London
2012                       Research Intern, Mammal Research Institute, Białowieża Forest, Poland
2012                       Development Intern, Trees for Cities, London
2011                       Research Intern, Community Centred Conservation (C3), Northern Madagascar
2008-11               BSc Environmental Geography & International Development, UEA, Norwich  


Lead researcher on the project ‘Understanding the impact of local communities on the Bengal florican in central Cambodia’ as part of my MSc thesis, a collaboration with WCS Cambodia

Data analyst on the project ‘Reducing demand for illegal wildlife products’ a collaboration between Imperial College London, WWF & TRAFFIC.


Hinsley A, Keane A, St. John FAV, Ibbett H, Nuno A. (2019) Asking sensitive questions using the unmatched count technique: Applications and guidelines for conservation. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. 00:1–12. doi:10.1111/2041-210X.13137

Ibbett H, & Brittain S, 2019. Conservation publications and their provisions to protect research participants. Conservation Biology. https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13337 

Ibbett H, Lay C, Phlai P, Song D, Hong C, Mahood S, & Milner-Gulland EJ. (2019) Conserving a globally threatened species in a semi-natural, agrarian landscape. Oryx, 53(1), 181-191. doi:10.1017/S0030605316001708

Dobson AD, Milner‐Gulland EJ, Beale CM, Ibbett H, and Keane A. (2018) Detecting deterrence from patrol data. Conservation Biology. doi:10.1111/cobi.13222

Burgess G, Zain S, Milner-Gulland EJ, Eisingerich EB, Sharif V, Ibbett H, Olmedo Castro A, Sohl H. (2018) Reducing Demand for illegal wildlife products. Research analysis on strategies to change illegal wildlife product consumer behavior. Research report for DEFRA (Ref:WC1110). Available from: https://www.traffic.org/publications/reports/reducing-demand-for-illegal-wildlife-products/  



Photo of Harriet Ibbett