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Policing One Health: The Role of Wildlife Law Enforcement in Mitigating Zoonotic Disease Risk (Advert Reference: RDF21/EE/GES/MASSEFrancis)

Faculty of Engineering and Environment

About the Project

75% of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic, with both the legal wildlife trade and wildlife trafficking identified as risk factors in zoonotic disease transmission and spread. The opening pages of the UN Office of Drugs and Crime’s 2020 World Wildlife Crime Report, released during the COVID-19 pandemic, highlights connections between the global health crisis and wildlife trafficking. National governments across the Global North and South, multilateral institutions including the United Nations, European Union, World Bank, the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species and a host of non-governmental organisations, including the Global Initiative to End Wildlife Crime, similarly acknowledge the need to improve wildlife laws and develop “a scaled up, cooperative global enforcement effort” to more effectively mitigate the increasing risks wildlife trade and trafficking pose to public health, animal health, and environmental health – known as One Health. Such efforts include increased zoonotic surveillance; new laws, bodies and policing practices related to wildlife trade and animal and public health concerns; and developing a global protocol on wildlife crime to counter wildlife trafficking-related public health risks. These approaches all incorporate wildlife-related security, policing and law enforcement into the safeguarding of public health and broader promotion of One Health.

Research, practice and policy are beginning to respond to calls for more effective wildlife law enforcement to mitigate the threats posed by the wildlife trade and trafficking to One Health. Critical political-ecological/geographical scholarship is well-poised to investigate how the discursive and material dynamics of the current pandemic, and fears of future zoonotic disease outbreaks, are re-shaping the role of wildlife and conservation law enforcement to better police zoonotic disease risk and promote One Health from the local to the global level. Equally important is the need to provide critical insight into how these approaches manifest across geographic, class, gender, racial and species lines, and with what social and ecological implications.

This call seeks a candidate to undertake a PhD research project that advances political-ecology and critical geography scholarship on the role of wildlife law enforcement and policing in mitigating zoonotic disease risks. Illustrative topics and approaches could include:
• Policy, legislation, and institutional analysis related to zoonosis and wildlife trade
• Enforcement and policing to mitigate wildlife trade-related zoonotic disease risks
• Intersections between combatting wildlife trafficking and zoonosis concerns
• Political ecologies and geographies of wildlife zoonosis and disease surveillance
• The role of policing and security in One Health

We particularly welcome proposals that develop an institutional, geographic, disease or species case study of how (wildlife) policing and law enforcement has historically sought to minimize the zoonotic disease risk posed by the wildlife trade – legal and/or illegal – and how this is evolving in response to changing discourses and realities of zoonotic disease risk.
Applicants are encouraged to submit proposals that develop innovative research methods and approaches that contribute to research on mitigating zoonotic disease risks in sustainable and just ways while advancing scholarship on the emerging intersections between political ecologies and geographies of environment, health, policing and law enforcement that remain underdeveloped.

The principal supervisor for this project is Dr. Francis Massé.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (RDF21/EE/GES/MASSEFrancis) will not be considered.
Deadline for applications: 29 January 2021
Start Date: 1 October 2021
Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community.

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Home and International (including EU) students, and includes a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2020/21, this is £15,285 pa) and full tuition fees.


Massé, F., & Margulies, J. D. (2020). The geopolitical ecology of conservation: The emergence of illegal wildlife trade as national security interest and the re-shaping of US foreign conservation assistance. World Development, 132, 104958.
Massé, F. (2020). Conservation law enforcement: policing protected areas. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 110(3), 758-773.
Massé, F., Dickinson, H., Margulies, J., Joanny, L., Lappe-Osthege, T., & Duffy, R. (2020). Conservation and crime convergence? Situating the 2018 London Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference. Journal of Political Ecology, 27(1), 23-42.
Gore, M., Brazack, P., Brown, J., Cassey, P., Duffy, R., Fisher, J., Graham, J., Justo-Hanani, R., Kirkwood, A., Lunstrum, L., Machalaba, C., Masse, F., Omron, D., Stoett, P., White, R. and Wyatt, T. 2019. Transnational Environmental Crime Threatens Sustainable Development. Nature Sustainability.
Massé, F. (2018). Topographies of security and the multiple spatialities of (conservation)
power: Verticality, surveillance, and space-time compression in the bush. Political
Geography, 67, 56-64.
Massé, F., & Lunstrum, E. (2016). Accumulation by securitization: Commercial poaching, neoliberal conservation, and the creation of new wildlife frontiers. Geoforum, 69, 227-237.
Massé, F. (2016). The political ecology of human-wildlife conflict: Producing wilderness, insecurity, and displacement in the Limpopo National Park. Conservation and society, 14(2), 100-111.

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