Jo Foo's Story

Author: Joanne Foo
Jo Foo's Story

Jo Foo travelled to North America in 2013 to research the social, economic and ethical impacts of wildlife reintroductions.

The Fellowship

Jo, a zoologist and Science Education Coordinator from Scotland, wanted to use her 2013 Fellowship to learn about the conflicts that can arise when animals are reintroduced to an area. With the UK considering reintroducing species such as the lynx and the wolf, she was particularly interested in learning how people coexist with large predators.

In North America, reintroductions have polarised opinion. To ensure she was able to bring an informed point of view to the debate around the role of reintroductions in the UK, Jo decided to visit a range of stakeholders during her Fellowship, spending time with people who were strongly opposed to wolf conservation, as well as with conservationists.

Jo (pictured with Dharma the wolf, photograph courtesy of Monty Sloan) visited many of the USA’s most famous National Parks, Wolf Park in Indiana and the Great Bear Rainforest in Canada. She also spent time with the team from the Yellowstone Wolf Project and shadowed many of the volunteers who dedicate their time to observing the wildlife of these parks and educating visitors. Another highlight of her trip was meeting some of the world’s leading wolf biologists at the International Wolf Symposium in Minnesota.

From her seven weeks travelling, Jo learned that while wildlife reintroductions have demonstrated huge environmental and economic benefits, their social implications and management are crucial for their success. Politics also play an essential role. If the UK is to reintroduce large predators, sound science, education and transparency will be vital in obtaining wide scale support and buy-in, and are therefore essential for the success of any such reintroductions.

The Results

Since returning to the UK, Jo has delivered a series of presentations and workshops, engaging and inspiring science centre visitors and uniformed groups in Scotland, such as Beavers, Scouts and Guides. She has written articles in the Biological Sciences Review, and in The GIST (see pages 17-19), a popular student-run science magazine.

She is currently spending time in mainland Europe researching how people coexist with large predators there. Most recently, this involved a trip to the northeast of Spain to see Iberian wolves and red deer. She also visited a local sheep farmer who uses non-lethal predator control methods to coexist peacefully with wolves.

Not long after returning from her Fellowship, Jo decided it was time to take another leap and fulfil another dream.  She left her role as a science educator and has set up her own business, in which she captures wildlife images to help initiate important conversations about reintroductions. Her business also supports conservation charities through the sales of these photographs.

Jo’s Fellowship not only allowed her to build the confidence she needed to take this step, it also showed her where her skills in science communication and photography could be combined. Through her business she continues to develop and deliver activities to inspire young people to engage in wildlife conservation. She hopes that future generations will have a different perspective on how to coexist with wildlife.

Read Jo’s report here

Learn more about Jo’s business: http://www.jofoowildlifephotography.com/

Apply for a Fellowship

Read more Fellows' Stories in Environment, Nature & Sustainable Living