Ruth Starkey

Wildlife Conservation Society

Ruth Starkey has been with the Wildlife Conservation Society since 2002, predominantly working in Gabon. She initially conducted wildlife research and monitoring in Lopé and Ivindo national parks, and later became a technical advisor for Loango National Park, Gabon. Since 2011, Starkey has primarily focused on working with government agencies to improve protection efforts. She led the work with the Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux (ANPN), the Gabonese national park agency, to set up a law enforcement monitoring (LEM) system within all the 13 national parks in the Central African nation.

As part of these protection efforts, it became apparent that Gabon needed to increase the detection rates for the trafficking of wildlife products, which led Starkey to become the driving force behind the creation of the detection dog unit for the ANPN in Gabon in 2013.

Starkey has recently moved from WCS Gabon to WCS Tanzania, where she is focusing on implementing law enforcement tools within the protected areas of Ruaha-Katavi landscape, including an similar LEM system to Gabon. It is based on the free, open-source Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool, or SMART, and detection dogs for wildlife products.

Starkey has a master's degree from University College London.

Featured Work

Gabonese National Park detection dog unit with Cooper and Lumi. CREDIT: Ruth Starkey © WCS

MAR 14, 2014 Article

Policy Innovations Digital Magazine (2006-2016): Commentary: Dogs Ally with Elephants in the Fight Against Illegal Ivory

Sniffer dog teams are proving invaluable in the interdiction of illegal ivory and other wildlife parts as the contraband flows from Africa to Asia.