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James McKaughan

Member of the Department of Anthropology


Establishing reliable population density estimates for multiple species including 'problem' animals in a South African farming landscape
Teaching environmental education lessons

My conservation interests lie in human-wildlife interactions and conflict mitigation. As part of this population density estimation is a vital element of scaling and addressing issues between human and wildlife populations.
My primary focus has been on large carnivores, spending time in India to assess populations and undertake environmental education in local communities. Since, I have spent almost three years at the Alldays Wildlife and Communities Research Centre in South Africa working for the centre and the Primate and Predator Project as the predator research coordinator and leading the environmental education programme.
My research has focused on establishing density estimates for ‘problem’ carnivores in the area for my MRes. I have since transferred to a PhD in order to expand this research to look at ‘problem’ species more widely, and how new camera trapping methodologies could be optimised in order to provide density estimates for species that do not have natural markings. The majority of species in the world are not individually identifiable and have consequently proven difficult to establish reliable density estimates for, especially through camera trapping. Three of the most cited problem species in South African farmlands are caracal (Caracal caracal), black-backed jackal (Canis mesomelas) and chacma baboon (Papio ursinus) and as such validating methods that can yield reliable density estimates for these species would be a major step forward for future conservation management.​

Research interests

  • Conservation
  • Felid Behaviour and Ecology
  • Population Ecology
  • Human-Wildlife Conflict