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Jonny Hanson BA (Hons) MSc

Jonny Hanson BA (Hons) MSc

PhD candidate

Jonny's PhD focuses on the human dimensions of snow leopard conservation in the Himalayas, while exploring broader relationships between biodiversity, sustainable development and agriculture in mountainous areas.



  • 2010 – 2012: Partnership development, Christian Aid Ireland, Belfast, Northern Ireland
  • 2009 – 2011: Environmental education, Ulster Museum, Belfast, Northern Ireland
  • 2008: Animal husbandry intern, Mountain View Wildlife Conservation Centre, Vancouver, Canada
  • 2007 – 2009: Biodiversity conservation and animal husbandry work experience with various NGOs, including Ulster Wildlife Trust (habitat management), RSPB (red kite reintroduction), Cat Survival Trust (exotic felids), Monkey Sanctuary Ireland (primates) and Wildlife Northern Ireland (wildlife rehabilitation)


  • 2012 – present: PhD candidate, University of Cambridge
  • 2009 – 2010: MSc Sustainability and corporate social responsibility (distinction), Queen's University Management School
  • 2007 – 2009: NVQ Level II Environmental conservation, Ulster Wildlife Trust/College of agriculture, food and rural enterprise, Northern Ireland
  • 2006 – 2009: BA (Hons) Medieval history with archaeology (1st class), Queen's University Belfast

Awards and scholarships

  • Economic and Social Research Council Doctoral Studentship: 2012 – 2015.
  • Queen's University Institute for a Sustainable World Sustainability and CSR Prize (highest MSc Sustainability and CSR mark): 2011
  • Queen's University Management School MSc Scholar: 2009/2010
  • School of History and Anthropology Dissertation Prize (highest undergraduate history dissertation mark): 2009
  • Esther Ballantine Prize (highest undergraduate history degree mark): 2009
  • School of History and Anthropology Foundation Scholar: 2008/2009
  • Lewis Warren Prize (highest medieval history module mark): 2008 & 2009
  • Dennis Rebeck Prize (most promising Level II historian): 2008


My PhD research focuses on the human dimensions of snow leopard Panthera uncia conservation in the Himalayas. The snow leopard is an endangered wild felid facing numerous anthropogenic threats. Given the prevalence of human populations across the snow leopard's range, many of whom are poor and dependent on pastoralism, livestock predation by snow leopards is both a threat to livelihoods and a source of conflict with this large felid. The future of the snow leopard is therefore contingent upon its relationship with these communities. Accordingly, conservation efforts are often directed at mitigating conflict with pastoralists and developing alternative livelihood options, especially under a decentralised, or 'bottom-up', model of conservation governance.

My research explores the relationship between people, snow leopards and snow leopard conservation in two protected areas in Nepal: the Annapurna Conservation Area and the Sagarmatha (Everest) National Park. It employs the sustainable livelihoods framework to to profile the socio-economic status of local communities. In addition, it also assesses household conflict with snow leopards and snow leopard conservation, and individual attitudes to the same. Human factors critical for and detrimental to snow leopard conservation will be identified. In particular, the study examines how conflicts and attitudes vary under the contrasting management regimes at the two field sites, as well as varying degrees of livelihood dependence on livestock. Exploring broader relationships between biodiversity, sustainable development and agriculture in mountainous areas, regional socio-economic trends in the snow leopard's Himalayan range will also be analysed.

My wider research interests are in the field of human-animal-nature interactions, specifically in the context of:

  • The Felidae (cat) family
  • Food and farming
  • Zoos and aquariums
  • Religion, particularly Christianity
  • Sustainable development, especially poverty alleviation
  • Mountainous areas
  • The medieval period


Selected publications

  • Hanson, J. H. 2015. 'Critical factors for sustainable food procurement in zoological collections'. Zoo Biology 34(5), pp.483 - 491.
  • Hanson, J. H. and Holt, D. 2014. 'Sustainable food procurement in British and Irish zoos', British Food Journal 116 (10), pp.1636 - 1651.
  • Hanson, J. H. and McNair, D. 2014. 'Should conservationists continue to dodge the issue of tax dodging?', Oryx 48(3), pp. 313 - 314.

Selected presentations

  • 'Snow leopards and sustainability: conservation, livelihoods and governance in the Himalayas', Presentation at the 17th Student Conference on Conservation Science, University of Cambridge: March 2016
  • 'Sustainable food procurement in BIAZA', Presentation at the 15th Annual BIAZA (British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums) Research Symposium, WildWood, Kent: July 2013.
  • 'Tax dodging, tax justice and the environment', Presentation at the political ecology reading group, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge: March 2013.

External activities

  • Member, Snow Leopard Network
  • Member, Rare Breeds Survival Trust
  • Member, Green Party of Northern Ireland
  • Member, Friends of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group
  • Member, Christians on the Left

Personal websites