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Sociology Research


I am a Research Associate on the Smart Forests. I have been working in the field of conservation for close to a decade at the international, national and local scales. I am primarily interested in the rising discourse of conservation militarization and its socio-political implications. I am also interested in the way conservation is practiced in violent environments and links between the illegal wildlife trade and armed conflicts. I also have a very keen interest in animal geographies outside traditional protected areas and in human dominated landscapes

Research Interests

Political Ecology, Global Conservation Politics, Digital Technologies in Conservation, Surveillance, Human-Wildlife Interactions, Human Dimensions in Conservation, Social Science Methods for Conservation

Research Projects

PhD Project: Negotiating the Gaze: People, Power, and Conservation Surveillance in the Corbett Tiger Reserve, India. In recent years, the use of new and existing surveillance technologies in the practice of conservation has increased rapidly. This includes the use of
drones, camera traps, satellite and thermal imagery for activities such as wildlife monitoring, anti-poaching, and law enforcement. In many respects, surveillance is constitutive of modern society, especially in urban spaces (Lyon 1995) where its use has been widely discussed. In the conservation context, surveillance intensifies the demarcation of spaces between nature and people by intensifying territorialization (Adams 2017), and it has been suggested that it could impact the well-being of local stakeholders in various ways (Sandbrook 2015, Sandbrook et al 2018). However, the social and political implications of surveillance technologies in conservation and natural resource management remain an underexplored field of empirical inquiry. Drawing from 13 months of ethnographic fieldwork in the Corbett
Tiger Reserve, India, my Ph.D. research unpacks and explores the social and political implications of a wide range of surveillance technologies on local communities, conservation labour, and on conservation governance. I argue that these technologies are used to establish multiple surveillance regimes, resulting in several environmentalities and in the production of disciplined people, wildlife, and spaces. These regimes exacerbate already prevalent social injustices and structural inequalities of gender, caste, and class discrimination, resulting in mistrust and negative perceptions of local communities towards conservation policies.

Research Assistant and incoming Post Doctoral Research Associate:


Supervisor, Part II Paper: Conservation Science, Nat Sci Tripos, Department of Zoology (MT 2019)
Supervisor, Part II Paper: Political Ecology in the Global South, Geography Tripos, Department of Geography (MT 2019, LT 2020)

Key Publications - Book Chapters

Simlai, T., Sandbrook, C. 2021. Digital Surveillance Technologies In Conservation And their Social Implications. In Conservation Technology Eds. Wich, S., Piel, A. 2021. Oxford University Press

Key Publications - Journal Articles

Sandbrook, C., Clark, D., Toivonen, T., Simlai, T., O’ Donnell, S., Cobbe, J., Adams, B. 2020. Principles For The Socially Responsible Use Of Conservation Monitoring Technology And Data. Conservation Science And Practice  (e374) 

Duffy R, Massé F, Smidt E, Marijnen E, Büscher B, Verweijen J, Ramutsindela M, Simlai T et al. 2019. Why we must question the militarisation of conservation. Biol. Conservation. 232:66–7

Simlai, T. Conservation 'Wars': The global rise of green militarization and trends in India. Economic and Political Weekly, Vol L No 50. 2015.

PhD Supervisor

Media Articles


Department of Geography, University Fieldwork Grant, Selwyn College
WILDCRU Conservation Geopolitics Full Bursary Award
The Maurice Swingland Prize awarded to the best postgraduate student taught at the master's level in the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent, UK.

Job Title:
Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Department of Sociology , Darwin College
Contact Information: