School of Anthropology & Conservation

Excellence in diversity Global in reach

Dr Simon Black

Researcher & Organisational Development Consultant (HR)

Conservation leadership; project effectiveness and evaluation; conservation performance improvement


profile image for Dr Simon Black

My focus covers both conservation science and management with a particular interest in how to manage conservation effectively, and how to improve the impact of conservation interventions. One aspect of my work includes the interfaces between science, field research and project management. A second area examines how conservation management can be improved and sustained. My scientific interests centre on the genetics of small populations and its effects on survival, diversity and disease resistance. I am also interested in the impact of conservation genetics on management strategies for conserving and sustaining populations with a particular interest in predators. I also have interest in how Human-Wildlife-Conflict can be managed and how to improve systems where humans and wildlife need to co-exist.

My interest in supporting the conservation community to improve effectiveness and impact of its activities led to the development of the DICE EARTH Centre. I have an active interest in developing practical collaborations to support learning and new practices in conservation projects worldwide.

back to top

Recent Publications


back to top

In the field.I teach on the following modules:

  • DI889: Leadership Skills for Conservation Managers
  • DI893: Business Principles for Biodiversity Conservation
  • DI507: Wildlife Management and Sustainable Use
  • PDip in Endangered Species Recovery - Leading and managing conservation projects
  • DI307: Environmental Sciences

I also run a number of training programmes and workshops for staff across the University of Kent:

back to top

Leadership and Management in Conservation

Examining lion hide.My core interests are conservation management effectiveness, improvement and learning informed by over twenty five years as a researcher, manager, consultant, and educator. I have delivered teaching for corporate, university, NGO and government programmes. My published research papers span species conservation, conservation leadership, performance evaluation, management development and business improvement. Recent work has examined how management assessment frameworks can be used to improve the effectiveness of conservation programmes and how leadership behaviour has an impact on conservation programme success or failure. Current work includes examining how innovative data analysis tools, such as Systems Behaviour Charts and new methods of programme assessment, such as the Conservation Excellence Model, can improve conservation management. My research informs management development work which I am conducting in conservation programmes in Europe, North America, the Caribbean, North Africa, East Africa, the Middle East and Indian Ocean Islands.

Conservation genetics

Last Lioness in Algeria 1870Recent work includes conservation genetics of big cats, primarily leopards and lions. I contributed to the Leverhulme-funded DICE project which examined how MHC diversity in endangered island species in Mauritius, which have experienced population bottlenecks in their recent history, compares with more robust species. I support work with big cats including conservation genetics of the Arabian Leopard (Panthera pardus nimr) and the genetics of Moroccan Royal lions, the captive population thought to be descended from the now extinct North African lion population (Panthera leo leo). My latter work reviewed the status of these lions and has led to my development of the European studbook which is now used by zoos involved in maintaining the European and Moroccan zoo population.

Human Wildlife Conflict

Current work with colleagues is examining how human-wildlife conflict data can be used to assist in focusing and managing conservation effort to greatest effect. I also maintain an interest in both the interaction of ecosystems and species with human land use and the restoration of ecosystems for both human and wildlife benefit, with a personal interest in the Mediterranean biome (particularly North Africa) and the Arabian Peninsula. Practical methods for data monitoring and decision-support have been devised for Human-Wildlife-Conflict programmes in the Sundarbans and Tanzania, with upcoming work in Kenya and Gabon.

back to top

The DICE EARTH Centre is a training and consultancy hub which provides support services to the global conservation community including:

  • Conservation Training
  • Management and Leadership Training
  • Organisation Design and Program Assessment
  • Program Improvement Methodologies

I provide expert training, online materials and face-to-face consultancy support to clients. The DICE EARTH Centre is developing international partners to assist in taking our initiatives forward. Currently, I conduct regional initiatives alongside local partners in the UK, India, Bangladesh, the Middle East, and Indian Ocean (Seychelles, Mauritius, Madagascar, Comores). New courses and collaborations are being developed to enable local capacity building to support biodiversity conservation. I look to work with the business community on environmental, ecological and conservation themes.

Teaching at the Earth CentreOpen Courses in Conservation Management Training 

The DICE EARTH Centre provides opportunities to learn about the latest practical ideas to assist conservation managers. Workshops provide learning based on leading research on management in conservation, provide practical insights for directors, managers and team leaders in conservation, and align business good practice to the demands of conservation biology. Courses are taught on topics of conservation and management, using sound theory brought to life: how to lead at the sharp end.

  1. Leadership in conservation: new ideas to conservation leaders operating at senior/middle management or project level.
  2. Conservation Program Assessment:  background on the Conservation Excellence Model (CEM) and how to link results to approach. There is an introduction to rapid methods for reviewing conservation programs.
  3. Effective teamwork:  managing people to work more effectively together. 
  4. Objective Setting and Performance Measurement:  best approaches for setting relevant goals and objectives, and how to identify and monitor performance indicators.
back to top

Current PhD studentsStudents engaged in a seminar.

  • Gemma Harding: The best laid plans? Evaluation of ex situ components within species conservation action plans (co-supervisor)
  • Thirza Loffeld: Continuous Professional Development in wildlife conservation: identifying gaps and barriers from case studies in developing countries


  • Sone Christopher: Victims of their teeth: critical issues for continued killing of elephants in Cameroon
back to top

I run four outreach portals on the Web.

  • Barbary Lion: the Science and History of the North African Lion: engaging people in the research currently being undertaken by leading centres of excellence in genetics, extinction modelling, ecology and natural history. 
  • @BigBarbaryCat the Barbary Lion twitter feed: conservation, ecology, human/wildlife conflict, reintroduction, genetics.
  • The Conservation Leader : a portal to better understand how leaders of conservation can achieve higher levels of success for their projects and organisations.
  • Change Academy Networks : over a hundred original articles which aim to inspire dialogue, improvement, change & personal development.

I have featured in the following TV documentaries in the UK, North America and Europe.

  • Die letzten Berberlöwen - Könige im Exil” on “W wie Wissen” (K for Knowledge), NDR German Television, Hamburg (aired 1 April 2012)
  • “Museum secrets: Barbary Lions”, History Television, Kensington Comm. (aired March 18, 2011)

I was also consulted for the following TV and Web media features:

  • Platt, J.R. (2013) When did the Barbary Lion Really Go Extinct? April 22, 2013. Scientific American
  • “Nature’s Miracle Babies”, BBC Television Natural History Unit, Bristol (aired 11 September 2011)
  • “An unusual parent” Baby Planet, Discovery Channel ‘Animal Planet’, Parthenon (2009)
  • Walker, M. (2009) Return of the royal Barbary lion. June 23, 2009. BBC EARTH NEWS


Barbary Lion header

back to top

School of Anthropology and Conservation - © University of Kent

School of Anthropology and Conservation, Marlowe Building, The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NR, T: +44 (0)1227 827056

Last Updated: 25/01/2018