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Department of Geography


Peadar Brehony BSc(Honours)

PhD Candidate, Corpus Christi College

I am interested in understanding the impact that conservation efforts have on social-ecological systems.

Tackling conservation challenges requires a strong understanding of both the ecological and social context of the problem. Ongoing changes in our world demand that we find, test, and share holistic solutions to these challenges.

Prior to starting my PhD, I spent several years working in conservation organisations. My experiences include coordinating a cross-border conservation initiative; working as an advisor for a Tanzanian based conservation organisation; working with a community land owners association in Kenya; and conducting research with the Wildlife Conservation Society in Gabon.



  • 2016 – present: PhD Candidate, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
  • 2015 – 2016: Technical Advisor, Country-wide Programs, PAMS Foundation, Tanzania
  • 2013 – 2015: Overall Coordinator, Kenya-Tanzania Borderland Conservation Initiative, African Conservation Centre, Kenya
  • 2012 – 2013:Information and Data Coordinator, Lale’enok Resource Centre and the Kenya-Tanzania Borderland Conservation Initiative, South Rift Association of Land Owners, Kenya
  • 2012: Field research team leader, Congo Basin Coast Project, Wildlife Conservation Society, Gabon


  • 2007 – 2011: BSc (Honours, First Class) Environmental and Earth System Sciences – Zoology, University College Cork, Ireland, with a one year scholarship to University of California, Santa Barbara, USA (Dean’s Honours).
  • Languages: Fluent in English, French, Swahili, conversant in Maa.

Awards and scholarships

  • 2011: UCC Science, Engineering, and Food Science Graduate of the Year
  • 2011: Maire Mulcahy Prize – Zoology Graduate of the Year
  • 2010: Dean’s Honours University of California
  • 2009 – 2010: University of California Exchange Scholarship to attend University California Santa Barbara
  • 2008 – 2010: UCC Academic Honours Scholarship
  • 2007: UCC Entrance Scholarship


Current PhD research: “Conservation and resilience to drought: a social-ecological perspective on conservation areas in Kenya’s Southern Maasailand.”

The Kenya-Tanzania borderland supports some of the richest wildlife populations on earth through a network of community rangelands and protected areas. In the Kenyan context, community conservancies play a role in wildlife conservation and land management. There is a perception among communities in these semi-arid pastoral lands that drought impacts are worsening, due to increasing drought frequency and restrictions on coping mechanisms.

My research will use social-ecological systems theory and a resilience lens to investigate how resilience to drought is changing in these rangelands, and will investigate the role that conservation plays in this context.

My other research interests include the role of community based monitoring in resource management; large landscape conservation; human-wildlife coexistence (and reducing conflict); the politics of conservation; and food production and society.

I also believe in the importance of building capacity in conservation, particularly with regards to communities who bear the greatest costs in conservation efforts and I’m involved in ongoing efforts to provide these opportunities.

Research funding

  • 2019: University of Cambridge Philosophical Society
  • 2019: Philip Lake II Fund
  • 2017: The Nature Conservancy
  • 2017: University Fieldwork Fund
  • 2017, 2019: Corpus Christi College Fieldwork Fund
  • 2017: Mary Euphrasia Mosley Travel Fund
  • 2017: Department of Geography Transferable Skills Fund
  • 2017: Corpus Christi College Support for Language Training

Conservation grants

  • 2014 – 2015: $279,000 Liz Claiborne Art Ortenberg Foundation for Kenya-Tanzania Borderland Conservation Initiative (BCI)
  • 2014 – 2015: $5,000 African Wildlife Foundation for BCI Lion Working Group
  • 2013 – 2014: $248,000 Liz Claiborne Art Ortenberg Foundation for BCI
  • 2013 – 2014: $78,330 US Fish and Wildlife Service for BCI


Journal articles

  • Lindsey, P., Allan, J., Brehony, P., Dickman, A., Robson, A., Begg, C., Bhammar, H., Blanken, L., Breuer, T., Fitzgerald, K., Flyman, M., Gandiwa, P., Giva, N., Kaelo, D., Nampindo, S., Nyambe, N., Steiner, K., Parker, A., Roe, D., Thomson, P., Trimble, M., Caron, A., & Tyrrell, P. 2020. Conserving Africa’s wildlife and wildlands through the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. Nature Ecology & Evolution.
  • Brehony, P., Tyrrell, P., Kamanga, J., Waruingi, L., Kaelo, D. 2020. Incorporating social-ecological complexities into conservation policy. Biological Conservation.
  • Western, D., Tyrrell, P., Brehony, P., Russell, S., Western, G., and Kamanga, J. 2020 Conservation from the inside-out: winning space and a place for wildlife in working landscapes. People and Nature.
  • Dickman, A., Cooney, R., Johnson, P.J., Louis, M.P., Roe, D., … Brehony, P. and 127 other signatories. 2019. Trophy Hunting Bans Imperil Biodiversity. Science, 365, 6456 (874)
  • Brehony, P., Bluwstein, J., Lund, J. F., and Tyrrell, P. 2018. Bringing back complex socio-ecological realities to the study of CBNRM impacts: a response to Lee and Bond 2018, Journal of Mammalogy,
  • Alexander Braczkowski, Matthew H Holden, Christopher O’Bryan, Chi-Yeung Choi, Xiaojing Gan, Nicholas Beesley, Yufang Gao, James Allan, Peter Tyrrell, Daniel Stiles, Peadar Brehony, Revocatus Meney, Henry Brink, Nao Takashina, Ming-Ching Lin, Hsien-Yung Lin, Niki Rust, Severino G. Salmo, James EM Watson, Paula Kahumbu, Martine Maron, Hugh P Possingham, Duan Biggs. 2018. Reach and messages of the world’s largest ivory burn. Conservation Biology, DOI: 10.1111/cobi.13097

Other media

  • Tyrrell, P., Brehony, P., Western, D. 2020 What’s good for livestock can be good for wildlife British Ecological Society Blog
  • Bluwstein, J., Lund, J.P., Brehony, P. 2018 Why conservation success stories in Tanzania need a closer look. The Conversation
  • Tyrrell, P., Brehony, P., Kamanga, J., Waruingi, L. and Kaelo, D. (2018) Exploring the potential for sustainable consumptive utilisation of wildlife in Kenya. Report submitted to the Task Force on Consumptive Wildlife Utilisation, Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife for the Government of the Republic of Kenya.
  • Brehony, P. 2017 Resilience to Drought in East Africa. The Letter. Corpus Christi College
  • Brehony, P. 2016 Turning the Tide Against Poaching: Lessons from Tanzania
  • Brehony, P. 2014 Conserving Elephants and Lions in the Kenya-Tanzania Borderlands – Conference Report for the Wildlife Conservation Society and African Conservation Centre, Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Brehony, P., 2011. Investigation of Parasitism and the Immunocompetence Handicap Hypothesis (ICHH) in Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus). BSc Honours Thesis, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University College Cork.

Conference contributions

  • Presentation: Conservation inside-out: a livelihoods first perspective from southern Kenya. International Congress for Conservation Biology, Malaysia, 2019
  • Presentation: Changing social-ecological resilience to drought and the role of conservation in the Kenya-Tanzania borderland. International Congress for Conservation Biology, Malaysia, 2019
  • Presentation: Achieving conservation across boundaries: the Kenya-Tanzania borderland. Conservation Geopolitics Conference, University of Oxford, UK 2019.
  • Presentation: Could ‘dark logic’ help to avoid causing harm in conservation interventions? Political Ecology Group, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, UK, 2018
  • Invited Speaker: Social-ecological resilience to drought and the role of conservation. ECHO East Africa Pastoralist Symposium III, Nanyuki, Kenya, 2018
  • Presentation: Social-ecological resilience to drought and the role of conservation. Presented to the International Livestock Research Institute, Nairobi, Kenya and to DAI (Development Alternatives Inc.), Nairobi, Kenya, 2018
  • Presentation: Resilience to drought in East Africa. Centre for African Studies Seminar Speaker, University of Cambridge, UK 2017
  • Invited Speaker: Who’s more intelligent, chimpanzees or humans? – Science, communication and guiding. Interpretive Guides Society, Tanzania. Arusha, Tanzania, 2016
  • Presentation: A collaborative approach to conserving large free-ranging elephants in the Kenya-Tanzania Borderland. Nairobi, Kenya, presented at Kenya’s National Elephant Conference, 2015
  • Presentation: Information generation and communication. Presented at the African Conservation Centre and Wildlife Conservation Society’s Conserving Elephants and Lions in the Kenya-Tanzania Borderlands, Arusha, Tanzania, 2014


  • Geography Tripos Supervisor: Society, Environment and Sustainable Development; Living with Global Change Course, Department of Geography (2018-2019)
  • Demonstrator: Geographical Skills and Methods: Statistics, Department of Geography (2018-2019)

External activities


  • Convenor, Political Ecology Seminars, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge (2018–2020)
  • Cambridge Conservation Forum Representative for the Department of Geography (2019–2020)
  • Greens and Charities Officer, Corpus Christi College MCR (2016–2017)
  • Vice-President, Cambridge East-Africa Society (2016–2017)


  • IUCN WCPA Connectivity Conservation Specialist Group
  • Geographical Society of Ireland
  • Society for Conservation Biology
  • Irish Wildlife Trust
  • Political Ecology Research Group
  • University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute
  • African Society of Cambridge University
  • Cambridge Philosophical Society