Gao Yufang

Ph.D. student in Conservation and Anthropology

Photo of Gao Yufang


Skype: yufang.gao

Mailing Address
Yale School of Forestry &
Environmental Studies
195 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511



Master of Environmental Science, Yale University
Bachelor of Biological Science, Peking University


Gao Yufang is a Chinese expert on interdisciplinary wildlife research and conservation. He holds a B.S. in Biology from Peking University in China and an M.S. in Environmental Sciences from Yale University in America, and he is currently pursuing a combined doctoral degree in wildlife conservation and sociocultural anthropology at Yale. He has rich experience of wildlife conservation in China, particularly on the Tibetan Plateau, having worked with the China Program of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Shanshui Conservation Center (a Chinese national NGO), Nyanpo Yuzee Conservation Association (a Tibetan grassroots NGO consisting of monks and herders). Most recently, he was the executive director of the Qomolangma (Mt. Everest) Snow Leopard Conservation Center, a private-public joint initiative between the Tibet Autonomous Region government and Vanke Co., Ltd, the largest residential real estate developer in China. Besides, Gao has researched in Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana on the China-bound elephant ivory trade and actively engaged in the global efforts to combat the illegal wildlife trade. His published research on the illegal ivory trade has helped the international community to achieve a more comprehensive and contextual understanding of China’s ivory markets, contributing to a more broad and effective coalition for African elephant conservation. 

Gao actively shares his work with scholars, conservationists, decision-makers, and the general public. He was the winner of the "best talk" prizes in the Student Conference on Conservation Science in New York (2013) and in Australia (2015). He was invited to speak at the IUCN African Elephant Summit (2013) in Botswana, the CITES-Chinese Government International Workshop on Demand-side Strategies for Curbing Illegal Ivory Trade (2015) in China, the Jackson Hole Wildlife Symposium (keynote, 2017) and other conferences. He also frequently delivers public lectures and speeches to people in China and abroad to raise public awareness for conservation. He is a research associate of the Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative, National Geographic Society explorer, and winner of the Marsh Award for Terrestrial Conservation Leadership in the UK.

Gao's doctoral dissertation project is focused on the conditions of possibility of human-wildlife coexistence. He looks into the complex interactions between local people and large carnivores on the Tibetan Plateau through an interdisciplinary approach which combines environmental anthropology, conservation biology, and the policy sciences. He is passionate about working with concerned individuals and groups to promote nature conservation and human dignity in China and worldwide. 

Recent media coverage (English-language)
• January 2018, Yale University, Solving the Ivory Deadlock.
• December 2017, National Geographic, China Shuts Down Its Legal Ivory Trade.
• December 2017, The Christian Science Monitor, Can Competing Schools of Elephant Conservation Find Common Ground?.
• April 2017, Scientific American, The Hard Truth about the Rhino Horn "Aphrodisiac" Market.
• January 2017, The Guardian, Ending the Illegal Ivory Trade in China Requires a Holistic Approach.
• January 2017, The New York Times, In Banning Ivory Trade, China Saw Benefits for Itself, Too