Photo credit: Maureen Kinyanjui
Managing conservation conflicts in the face of rapid socio-ecological change.
My academic background is in social sciences, with an undergraduate degree in Social Work from the University of Nairobi and a postgraduate degree in Global Studies (Sociology and Political Science) from the University of Freiburg, Germany. While working on food security, drought management, and rural development projects in rural Kenya, I realised that we needed first to understand and address conflicts between humans and wildlife to achieve our goals. I was motivated to pursue a postgraduate degree in Conservation and Rural Development at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), University of Kent and later joined the University of Edinburgh in 2020 as a PhD student. My career ambition is to improve participation and understanding of local communities in managing their natural resources.
My PhD aims to improve the robustness of conservation interventions that manage conflicts between humans and wildlife within a dynamic socio-ecological context. Conservation interventions always occur within social – ecological systems (SES), characterised by complex interactions and feedbacks and may be subject to rapid change. Currently, less is understood about how large-scale socio-economic and ecological changes within these systems influence the way humans interact and respond to wildlife and conservation efforts. Focusing on efforts to resolve a conflict over elephant conservation in Kenya, this PhD research will investigate how rapid infrastructural development, economic development and ecological changes – particularly drought and elephant crop-raiding behaviour – influence people’s behaviour and how this informs how they frame conflicts and manage interactions between themselves and wildlife. The project will contribute new scientific understanding of how planned human interventions interact with other drivers of change within social-ecological systems. It will also provide evidence-based research to inform conservation management on designing and implementing effective and robust interventions adaptable to changing social-ecological contexts.
Kinyanjui M., Bourne M., de Leeuw J. (2014): Cultural Service in Treesilience: An assessment of the resilience provided by trees in the drylands of Eastern Africa by De Leeuw J, Njenga M, Wagner B, Iiyama M. (Eds.) (pg 97-99). ICRAF
Kinyanjui, M. W., Raja, N. R., Brennan, E. J., King, L. E., & Tiller, L. N. (2020). Local attitudes and perceived threats of human-elephant conflict: a case study at Lake Jipe, Kenya. Pachyderm, 61, 120-130.
Grants and awards
May 2020: Awarded University of Edinburgh Principal’s Career Development Scholarship and the Edinburgh Global Scholarship to pursue a PhD program in Conservation Science
December 2020:Geography endowment funds – the University of Edinburgh, School of Geosciences.