Nafeesa Esmail




gorillaIn pursuing a BSc in Applied Zoology (McGill University, Canada) Nafeesa’s intentions were to pursue wildlife veterinary studies. However, the more she learnt about ecology, what conservation meant and what the ‘bigger picture’ entailed, Nafeesa realized she needed to create a greater impact for species and their habitats. Nafeesa quickly started to understand that as much as conservation is about biology, it is more about people and their interactions with the natural environment; as completely intact natural ecosystems no longer exist, only complex human impacted natural ecosystems.

Nafeesa’s strong passion and dedication to conservation has also led her to work towards innovatively communicating conservation messages, sharing knowledge and engaging the general public, volunteers and students with the environment. Her interdisciplinary and pragmatic approach to conservation was solidified through her experience in business development and operations management and whilst completing her MSc in Conservation Science (Imperial College London, UK). 



Easily excitable over anything conservation related, gregarious and optimistic. Adaptable to different environments, disciplines and sectors, Nafeesa’s conservation interests include:

·       Stakeholder engagement and collaborative partnerships

·       Bridging the research-practice and science-policy gaps

·       Illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade

·       Conservation conflicts and community conservation

·       Business and biodiversity, natural capital, no net loss

Originally from Kenya (where seeing the great migration across the Masai Mara as a juvenile sparked Nafeesa’s love for wildlife). Nafeesa exhibits complex migratory patterns between Uganda, across Canada and previously also found to seek temporary refuge in Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa and USA. Consistent movement between the developed and developing world fostered a special interest in applied research initiatives, which strive to interconnect economic valuation of natural resources, poverty alleviation and behaviour change. 


Nafeesa is the Programme Coordinator for the Oxford Martin School Programme on Illegal Wildlife Trade

Her remit includes:

  • Translating research into impact through dissemination and knowledge sharing
  • Coordinating and organising engagement and outreach activities and events, including symposiums and visiting fellows scheme
  • Horizon scanning of emerging issues within the wildlife trade sphere
  • Catalyzing and managing stakeholder, partner and donor relationships
  • Fundraising and collaborative opportunities
  • Development of programme profile and identity

She is also an advisor to the No Net Loss for Biodiversity and Communities in Uganda project


2016 - present: Illegal Wildlife Trade Programme Coordinator, University of Oxford, UK

2016 - present: Business & Biodiversity Associate, Wild Business, UK

2010 - present: Director, Performance Furnishings, Uganda

2015 - 2016: Business Development & Management Consultant, The Fat Cat, Uganda

2015 - 2016: Conservation Science Researcher, Tim Flach Photography UK

2015: Conservation Lecturer and Programme Development, Wildlife & Ecological Investments/Operation Wallacea, South Africa

2015: Biodiversity Conservation Researcher, Earthwatch, UK

2014 – 2015: Various secondary school, undergraduate and postgraduate course Tutoring, Lecturing and Facilitating, UK

2014: Conservation Researcher, Frankfurt Zoological Society CREATE (Conservation Research for East Africa’s Threatened Ecosystems), Zambia

2013 – 2014: MSc Conservation Science, Imperial College London, UK

2012 - 2013: Center for Biodiversity and Conservation Research Assistant and Science Educator, American Museum of Natural History, USA

2010 – 2013: Operations Manager, Performance Furnishings, Uganda

2010 – 2012: Research & Development Consultant, Asisi Estates, Uganda

2009 – 2010: Natural Areas Programme Assistant and Environmental Educator, City of Calgary Parks, Canada

2004 – 2008: BSc Applied Zoology, McGill University, Canada

2008: Ecotourism & Conservation Intern, Jane Goodall Institute, Uganda

2007: Wildlife Veterinary Assistant & Husbandry Volunteer, Uganda Wildlife Education Centre, Uganda

2004 – 2007: Uganda Project Coordinator, McGill Student Association for Medical Aid, Canada & Uganda


Chandler, M., Rullman, S., Cousins, J., Esmail, N., Venicx, G., Begin, E. Contributions to publications and management plans from 7years of citizen science: Use of a novel evaluation tool on Earthwatch-supported projects Biological Conservation.  (2016) 

Esmail, N. (2014). Investigating conservation conflicts in Musalangu Game Management Area, Zambia. Summary Report. 11pp. (English, Senga)

Esmail, N. (2014). Investigating conservation conflicts in Musalangu Game Management Area, Zambia. MSc Thesis. Imperial College London. 92 pp. (pdf)


Wallace, A.P.C., Sennett, R.H.E., Esmail, N., Sakala, M., Muyoma, P.J., and Wallace, G.E. (2015). Understanding variation and costs of human-wildlife conflict at ecosystem level: Lessons from North Luangwa, Zambia.

ICCB: 27th International Congress for Conservation Biology, 4th European Congress for Conservation Biology, Montpellier, France, 2-6 August 2015. Poster presentation. (pdf)