Tom Dando


PhD Researcher
Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter

I am a conservation ecologist with interests in human-wildlife conflict and coexistence, behavioural ecology and applied conservation research. I completed a BSc in Ecology and Wildlife Conservation in 2016 and an MRes in Conservation Biology in 2018. My previous research has focused on the impact of reserve boundaries on the behaviour of re-introduced African wild dogs in South Africa, as well as the spatial selection of large herbivore foraging and its relationship with structural and floral development in the context of rewilding at the Knepp Estate. I have also spent three years working in ecological consultancy and two years at the IUCN Small Mammal Specialist Group where I worked mainly on Red List assessments and key species fundraising.

My PhD aims to provide a detailed scientific understanding into the feasibility of re-introducing the European wildcat (Felis silvestris) into England and Wales. The project is focused on the key social and ecological questions around this topic, including identifying and ground-truthing candidate landscapes, modelling long-term population dynamics, as well as ensuring potential threats facing this species would be negligible or at least mitigated. The project also deals with the practicalities of such a release, including testing novel re-introduction techniques and researching behavioural traits of captive wildcats to inform how we can ensure they have the best chance of survival in the wild. The PhD will have a strong social science focus, and will involve and engage with relevant communities and stakeholders from the outset to ensure everyone is informed and opinions and concerns are taken into consideration. The project is a partnership between Vincent Wildlife Trust, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and the University of Exeter.

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