University of Nottingham Malaysia
School of Environmental and Geographical Sciences

Tropical Conservation Ecology

Our research

Southeast Asia has one of the richest biotas in the world but is also the tropical region with the highest deforestation rate that threatens the region with massive extinctions in the imminent future. At UNMC ’s Tropical Conservation Ecology Lab we focus mainly on the ecology and conservation of Asian megafauna, charismatic large mammals such as Asian elephants, rhinos, tapirs, and large cats, that are highly vulnerable to human impacts and whose survival by the end of the 21st century is questionable.

Our main project (MEME) focuses on studying the behavior and ecology of Malaysian elephants in order to aid the Malaysian government to make better-informed management decisions. In this sense, an important part of our work focuses on urgent applied conservation questions such as how to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts 

in an effective way and assessing the effectiveness of ongoing mitigation strategies such as elephant translocation and electric fencing.


Besides urgent issues, we also focus on ecological questions with important but longer-term conservation implications. We believe that megaherbivores and apex predators are highly interacting species with key ecological roles in ecosystems processes. We are particularly interested in the frugivory of elephants, rhinos, and tapirs and its implications for the seed dispersal of megafaunal-syndrome plants (those with very large fruits and seeds that cannot be dispersed by smaller animals), such as mangos and durians. Ultimately we want to understand what are the ecosystem-level consequences of the rapid loss of megafauna throughout the region. Moreover, the lab is open to address other conservation-relevant questions. In recent years we have carried out a number of studies on forest structure and mammal communities in different Malaysian forests, and have participated on studies of sun bears, binturongs, and forest rodents. We investigate policy and governance matters related to wildlife conservation, and even the behavior of conservation scientists themselves.

Research interests

  • Conservation ecology of Asian megafauna
  • Human-wildlife conflict mitigation
  • Frugivory and seed dispersal
  • Ecological consequences of defaunation
  • General tropical conservation issues

Current projects

1. The Management & Ecology of Malaysian Elephants (MEME)

  • Using GPS-satellite collars to track wild elephant movements
  • Non-invasive monitoring of stress levels in wild elephant populations
  • Forest elephant social organization and demography
  • Mapping elephant and human-elephant conflict (HEC) distribution in Malaysia
  • Developing science-driven human-elephant conflict mitigation
  • Elephant genetics
  • Forest elephant food habits
  • Ecological role of forest elephants as seed dispersers
  • Conservation Drones for elephant research

2. Impact of traditional agriculture on forest structure

3. Terrestrial Ecosystem Assessment & Monitoring Network (TEAM)

4. Science-policy interface for wildlife conservation

5. Project black cloud panther

6. Project pteropod


Organising the 3rd Regional Conference of the Society for Conservation Biology, Asia Section



  • Yayasan Sime Darby
  • Marinescape Aquamarine 
  • US Fish & Wildlife Asian Elephant Conservation Fund 
  • Wildlife Reserves Singapore
  • Chester Zoo 
  • Copenhagen Zoo 
  • Elephant Family 
  • Friends of National Zoo 
  • Ah Meng Memorial Fund 


  • Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia 
  • Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) 
  • RIMBA 
  • Elephant Conservation Group
  • Chester Zoo’s Endocrinology (hormone assessment)
  • Smithsonian’s Conservation GIS 
  • Museum National d’Historie Naturelle 
  • TEAM network 


  • Dr Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz, PI
  • Teck Wyn Lim, adjunct
  • Ee Phin Wong, PhD candidate
  • Saifon Sittimongkol, PhD candidate (UNUK)
  • Nagulendran A/L Kangayatkarasu, PhD candidate
  • Sheema Abd Aziz, PhD candidate (joint degree with Museum National d ’ Historie Naturelle )
  • Stefan Baier, MPhil candidate
  • Hii Ning, RA & MRes candidate
  • Ange Tan, RA & MRes candidate
  • Laurie Hedges, MRes candidate
  • Jonathan Moore, MRes candidate (UNUK)
  • Nurul Azuwa, RA
  • Aris Oziar, RA
  • Jamie Wadey, RA


  • Tariq Mahmood, visiting researcher
  • Pamela Ooi, MSc
  • Wiwit Juwita, MSc 

School of Environmental and Geographical Sciences

University of Nottingham
Jalan Broga, 43500 Semenyih
Selangor Darul Ehsan

telephone: +6 (03) 8924 8000
fax: +6 (03) 8924 8018

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