LONG-TERM OBJECTIVE: To help conserve biodiversity for the benefit of wild nature and people.

I am interested in human-wildlife interactions and wild animals' capacity for persistence in human-dominated landscapes. In Tanzania, I was involved in several initiatives including surveys of savanna elephants in forests and mitigation of conflicts between farmers and elephants. Over the past 2.5 years, I have been researching risk, fear and cognition in samango monkeys at two Afromontane forest sites in South Africa. This study, of how wild species deal with risk in a “landscape of fear”, has wider applications including (1) informing our understanding of primate cognitive evolution under conditions of stress and fear, and (2) shaping conservation management approaches in areas where wildlife populations are affected by human activities including research practices and depredation (poaching, culling, problem animal control, trophy hunting).

I earned a PhD in Biological Anthropology from the University of Cambridge in 2007. My PhD fieldwork focused on the behavioral flexibility of the endangered and endemic Zanzibar red colobus monkey where it inhabits unprotected coastal forests including mangroves. As a postdoc at Princeton University, l carried out research on a population of forest-dwelling savanna elephants in the Udzungwa Mountains, Tanzania; became more involved in the ivory trade debate; and lectured on the evolution and behavior of the sexes from 2011-2012. I have consulted for NGOs in Tanzania, UK, and USA encompassing a variety of topics including wildlife trade, coastal forest biodiversity, and wind farms. For one of these consultancies, I worked with the Wildlife Conservation Society to identify and rank 62 Priority Primate Areas in Tanzania which included two sites at which I conducted my doctoral fieldwork. I regularly contribute to a National Geographic blog and also NG digital news. In South Africa, I am a member of the Conservation Action Trust, a conservation advocacy NGO whose chief tool is environmental journalism. I am a scientific advisor to the Southern Tanzania Elephant Program.

  • Primate and elephant behavior and conservation
  • Large mammal ecology
  • Flooded forests
  • Human-wildlife interactions
  • Human-elephant coexistence
  • Wildlife trade
  • PhD Biological Anthropology       University of Cambridge, 2007
  • BA   Animal Behavior                   Bucknell University, 2001
  • 2016-2017                 AAAS S&T Policy Fellow - U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Africa Programs
  • 2016                          Consultant, WildAid - USA
  • 2013-Present            Research Associate, University of the Free State, Qwaqwa, Zoology & Entomology
  • 2013-2016                Junior Research Fellow, Durham University, Evolutionary Anthropology
  • 2013                          Consultant, Environmental Investigation Agency - UK
  • 2010-2012                 Postdoc/Lecturer, Princeton University, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
  • 2008/2009                 Consultant, Wildlife Conservation Society - Tanzania                                   
E-mail: knowak02@gmail.com     Twitter: @katzyna