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Senior research associate, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Luke Hunter is the Chief Conservation Officer of Panthera. Before joining Panthera, Hunter worked for the Wildlife Conservation Society as the head of their Great Cats Program and he taught wildlife ecology at universities in Australia and South Africa. He has worked on the ecology and conservation of carnivores for more than 25 years decades, starting with his doctoral and post-doctoral work on re-establishing populations of lions and cheetahs in areas where they had been wiped out by people in South Africa. That research helped develop protocols which now act as the standard for large cat restoration, and have resulted in over 45 new populations of wild lions across Southern Africa.

At Panthera, he oversees the planning and execution of the organization’s field programs around the globe, and supervises the scientific priorities of Panthera’s work. He is especially focused on developing and scaling up solutions to widespread retaliatory killing of big cats by rural communities, and on improving the protection of wild cat habitat. Hunter supervises graduate students working on wild cats around the world, focusing especially on initiating comprehensive studies on very poorly studied species such as African golden cats and Sunda clouded leopards.

Luke Hunter has written extensively about wild cats and their conservation; he has authored/co-authored over 170 articles in scientific journals and popular media including for Slate, BioScience, National Geographic and New Scientist. He has written eight books including Cats of Africa: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation (2006), Wild Cats of the World (2015) and Carnivores of the World (2018).


  • –present
    President and Chief Conservation Officer of Panthera, Research associate , University of KwaZulu-Natal


  • 1999 
    University of KwaZulu-Natal, Post-doctoral researcher
  • 1998 
    University of Pretoria, Ph.D
  • 1991 
    Monash University, B.Sc. (Hons.)