Gao Yufang

Ph.D. student in Conservation and Anthropology

Photo of Gao Yufang


Skype: yufang.gao



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


Gao Yufang is passionate about interdisciplinary wildlife conservation research and practice. 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. Before starting his Ph.D. studies, he had obtained rich experience with wildlife conservation. He was the executive director of the Qomolangma (Mt. Everest) Snow Leopard Conservation Center. He worked with the China Program of Wildlife Conservation Society and the Shanshui Conservation Center on various projects on the Tibetan Plateau. In 2011, he spent a year living with a group of Tibetan Buddhist monks who founded the Nyanpo Yutse Conservation Association, which is a local grassroots NGO dedicated to biodiversity conservation by integrating science and tradition. Since then, Gao has acted as Chief Scientist of the Association and helped the monks to manage their conservation programs. In addition to his work in Asia, Gao has conducted research in Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana on the illegal elephant ivory trade and taken an active part in the global efforts to combat the illegal wildlife trade. His research on the illegal wildlife trade has been covered by the Washington Post, Scientific American, National Geographic, and many other international and Chinese media. 

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 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, a National Geographic explorer, and a winner of the 2016 Marsh Award for Terrestrial Conservation Leadership in the UK. 

Gao's doctoral dissertation project is concerned with human-wildlife coexistence on the Tibetan Plateau. Using an interdisciplinary approach which combines conservation biology, environmental anthropology and the policy sciences, he studies the complex interactions among a multispecies assemblage of snow leopards, Tibetan herders, Buddhist monks, conservation professionals and other human and nonhuman beings. 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)
• May 2018, Yale University, F&ES Doctoral Student Receives 2018 Yale Public Scholar Award
• 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