Having conducted research on long-lived mammals for almost fifteen years and focused my efforts on elephants for over ten, I'm very fortunate to be leading this diverse group, and to be incorporating other study systems. Please read more about me in other sections of the website, including the Hannah CV, elephant research, boar research and publications pages. I'll be making updates about the group and our projects in the blog section. I'll also be adding a teaching page, where I'll upload resources I use for my courses.



Yifu graduated from McGill University with a bachelor’s degree majoring in Environmental Biology in 2015. In the same year, she enrolled in University of Cambridge as a PhD candidate. Her PhD project focused on understanding pangolin trade and markets in China to better conserve this group of highly trafficked mammals. 

Yifu’s postdoc project at HKU will investigate the conflict between humans and wild boars in Hong Kong. The reasons why more wild boar appear in urban settings, how people perceive the nuisances they cause and the potential management plans for this species will be the focus of this project. The outputs will potentially feed into real-life policies to manage wild boar and human interactions in Hong Kong.

Email: yw393@hku.hk



Cécile is a cognitive ecologist fascinated by how animals deal with pathogen threats. She has a BSc in Animal Biology from The University of Caen Normandy, France, a MSc in Ecophysiology & Ethology from The University of Strasbourg, France, and a PhD in Primatology from Kyoto University, Japan. After her PhD, she subsequently occupied a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science post-doctoral fellowship position at KU to investigate the cognitive and physiological responses to disgust and fear elicitors in chimpanzees.

At HKU, Cécile will mainly work on the Hong Kong Wild Boar Project, where she aims to develop applications of disgust-related avoidance behaviours both in wild boars and people to mitigate negative interactions, such as during boar foraging and provisioning.

Email: sarabian@hku.hk

Website: www.cecilesarabian.com



Yingwei holds a PhD in Law (City University of Hong Kong) and an LLB in Chinese Law. Once served as a researcher in a project to understand how people spend time in nature at the University of Sheffield, she has a great interest in the human-nature relationship and animal welfare issues.
Yingwei’s postdoc project at HKU investigates the implications of the ivory ban in China. China’s recent ivory ban is one of the most significant elephants conversation policies. This project aims to examine whether the rules and laws under the ban sufficiently combat the illegal ivory trade in the domestic and propose changes to improve the ivory ban and general ivory regulation. The outputs will contribute to developing ivory regulation and wildlife conservation policies in China.

Email: ychen100@hku.hk



Sagarika has an MSc in the Psychology of human-animal interactions from the University of Stirling, UK. Her focus lies in understanding and improving conditions for wild and captive elephants which can experience differing levels of welfare due to their interactions with humans. Therefore, by working with humans that have an impact on elephants, she hopes to create an inclusive approach to elephant welfare and conservation. Her long-term goal is to look at improving welfare conditions across the different captive elephant management systems in India, through work with mahouts and the administration and also work with local communities that are affected by negative human-elephant interactions. 

Having worked for a grassroot organization in India, her experience in the field involves research on captive elephant welfare in extensive systems of management and community- based initiatives in dealing with negative interactions with elephants.

Email: u3007068@connect.hku.hk



Tilley is a conservation biologist with a passion for investigating behavioural ecology using different systems. She graduated with a degree in Zoology and went on to complete a masters of research at University College London, before undertaking different behavioural projects with birds in Hong Kong and bats in Panama.

Tilley is currently a PhD student with the lab working on how elephant sensory systems impact behaviour. This will require extensive time at our field site in Nepal; training elephants on behavioural tasks and using complex statistical methods to analyse results.

Email: htilley@connect.hku.hk


Tess photo.jpg

Teresa completed her Master's degree in 2017 on Evolutionary and Developmental Biology at the University of Lisbon, Portugal. For her thesis, she used population genetics to study African elephants across two protected areas in South Africa, under the supervision of Dr Hannah Mumby and Dr Carlos Fernandes. She previously participated in molecular ecology projects at the University of Sheffield, UK, and the University of Aveiro, Portugal. Her research interests lie in molecular ecology, population genetics, evolution, and conservation genetics of mammals.

Email: teresaInsantos@campus.ul.pt



Sammi completed her bachelor’s degree in Ecology and Biodiversity; and is presently a master’s student of Environmental Management at the University of Hong Kong. She is interested in the integration of science and policies on managing the environment. For her undergraduate dissertation, she compared the effectiveness of different coastal ecological engineering approaches. Sammi also has a background in mammal studies, having interned at the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, studying the distribution of terrestrial mammal species in Hong Kong.

She is currently also a research assistant at the ABEC lab, working on human-wild boar interactions and the diet of wild boar in Hong Kong. Her research interests include behavioural ecology of mammals and the application of ecology to environmental management.

Email: u3537088@connect.hku.hk



Xuefei is currently a research assistant at the ABEC lab. Her main research interests are how environmental and anthropologic change impacts ecosystem structure and functions and how wildlife survives and adapts to such a human-dominated landscape. She is currently using the wild boar in Hong Kong as a study case.



Iris completed her bachelor's degree in Biodiversity and Conservation at Brigham Young University, USA. She has a background in animal behavioural studies, conducting studies at the Ocean Park, Hong Kong and National Taiwan Normal University, studying cooperative activities in dolphins, and fighting ability among damselfly.

She currently volunteers on the elephant sensory project and looks forward to contributing to the other projects within the lab.  



Eric provides invaluable research support and technical knowledge to all of our team. He also supports student teaching and and provides technical support to other faculty members.


  • Dr Josh Plotnik - Hunter College, City University of New York

  • Dr Lucy Bates - University of Sussex

  • Dr Janine Brown - Smithsonian Institute

  • Dr Michelle Henley - Elephants Alive

  • Prof Andrew Balmford - University of Cambridge

  • Prof George Wittemyer - Colorado State University

  • Dr Deborah Dawson - University of Sheffield

  • Mélody Busuttil - Université de Neuchâtel


  • Katherine Yeung - Former research assistant

  • Derek Murphy - Former postdoctoral researcher

  • Calvin Ma - Former research assistant

  • Mo Man Yi - Former research assistant

  • Cheuk Yiu Cheung - Former research assistant

  • Kaja Weirucka - Former Post-doc working on elephant vocalisations and olfactory preferences. Now post-doc at the University of Zurich.

  • Annaëlle Surreault - Former research assistant 

  • Sylvia Lam - Former volunteer working on human-boar interactions in Hong Kong

  • Caitlin Black - Former Post-doc funded by my Branco Weiss Fellowship to measure tusk size, body size and age from photographs, now Post-doc at the University of Amsterdam.

  • Ronny Makukule - Former Field Assistant, now a researcher at Elephants Alive.

  • Amy Morris-Drake - Former Research Assistant on communication, now PhD student at the University of Bristol.

  • Jessica Wilmot - Former Field Assistant, now Master's student at Central European University.

  • Christin Winter - Former Field Assistant. Now working for an elephant non-profit in Namibia.

  • Sam Yue - Former Research Assistant on the wild boar project and continued collaborator. Now based in Canada.