Leejiah Dorward

Conservation Science PhD student at University of Oxford associated with RCP, supervisors Dr Amy Dickman and Prof Tim Coulson. Leejiah has been connected to RCP since January 2015 when he started his PhD, and has done 3 field trips thus far to the Ruaha Camp in Tanzania.

Leejiah has always loved nature and running around outside, and conservation seemed to be a natural fit to put that curiosity to good use. This curiosity has led him to survey all the camps toilets to survey all the bat colonies living inside them… down the long drops!! His nocturnal trips have led to his being able to confirm that there are 1 heart–nosed bat and around 30 slit–faced bats in the camp.

Leeijahs’ grandfather worked as a forester in Southern Tanzania so for him it’s a true homecoming. His family lives in Kent in England and he has 1 brother. He’s committed to his science and his travels have led to projects in Brazil, Malawi, Tanzania, Malaysia and back home to the UK.

His study at RCP is trying to understand the social and ecological drivers of conflict. The main work is interviews with 175 pastoralists, primarily Barabaig and Masaai. In these interview Leejiah and his colleagues, George (Sidayaka) and Cashew (Zubieri), ask people about the wildlife they’ve seen around their bomas in the last month (prior to the interview and then by visiting the same people on repeatedly every two months within a 12–month period he is hoping to build up a temporal and spatial understanding of where carnivores and their prey are living. The team also ask interviewees about their attitudes towards carnivores and if they have suffered any livestock attacks and if they’ve had any engagement with RCP with the hope of understanding of how attacks and conservation interventions influence attitudes.

In Leejiah’s words – ‘The thing I love most about being in the field is the huge amount of varied experiences on offer – one moment you can be chasing a lion with a wooden spoon and the next extricating a snake from a tree stump in between making friends from, and learning about, the cultures so different to my own.’