An experimental approach to mitigating hippo human conflict

   Faculty of Biological Sciences

This project is no longer listed on and may not be available.

Click here to search for PhD studentship opportunities
  Dr Lochran Traill, Dr Alastair Ward  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The common hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) is one of a handful of extant African megaherbivore species. Unlike other megafauna, hippo are relatively underfunded and understudied. Hippo populations have declined substantially in Africa, and one reason is retributive killing as a result of conflict with people. Hippo human conflict increased by ~1200% over 10 years in some regions, and crop loss and human injury is substantial.

Relative to work done on human-predator or human-elephant conflict, very little has been done on hippo human conflict. This is despite the high mortality rates suffered by both humans and communities, and the damage that hippo can do to crops.

Moreover, while much experimental field work has been done on the mitigation of human predator/elephant conflict – practically nothing has been done on hippo. Past research has outlined some basic approaches used by poor rural people attempting to prevent crop raiding by hippo, such as lighting fires and digging trenches. But many other methods used regularly to deter elephant or even predators, such as visual, acoustic and olfactory deterrents have not been tested on hippo. Also, there has been no experimental approach to determine best combinations of interventions, or cost-effectiveness.

Here, a number of practical and affordable approaches designed to reduce crop raiding by hippo will be tested. The project will take an experimental field approach to test all approaches to deter hippo crop raiding, with important conservation outcomes. The work will likely be extended to include mitigation of hippo grazing competition with livestock.

Applicants with field experience in Africa are encouraged to apply.

For specific details about the project please contact Dr Lochran Traill directly; [Email Address Removed]

Eligibility and How to Apply

For more details about this project and how to apply please go to 

The NERC Panorama DTP are hosting ‘Demystifying the PhD application process’ webinars on the 9th and 12th December – sign up now!

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study is an IELTS of 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some schools and faculties have a higher requirement.

Equal Opportunities:

Within the NERC Panorama DTP, we are dedicated to diversifying our community. As part of our ongoing work to improve Equality, Diversity and Inclusion within our PhD funding programme, we particularly encourage applications from the following identified underrepresented groups: UK Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, those from a disadvantaged socio-economic background, and disabled people. To support candidates from these groups, we are ringfencing interviews, providing 1-2-1 support from our EDI Officer (contact Dr. Katya Moncrieff - [Email Address Removed]) and hosting a bespoke webinar to demystify the application process. Candidates will always be selected based on merit and ability within an inclusive and fair recruitment process.

Biological Sciences (4)

Funding Notes

This project is available as part of the NERC Panorama DTP, and is a fully funded studentship covering the full cost of University fees plus Maintenance of £17,668 (2022/23 rate) per year for 3.5 years, and a generous research training and support grant (RTSG). Applications are open to both home and international applicants. Please note the number of fully funded awards open for international applicants is limited by UKRI. 

How good is research at University of Leeds in Biological Sciences?

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

Where will I study?