Thais Morcatty

Thesis title: A multilateral approach to tackling wildlife trade in South America: people, ecology and conservation Supervisors

Start year: 2018


Supervisor(s): Professor Anna Nekaris, Professor Vincent Nijman, Dr Magdalena Svensson

Research topic

My research focuses on human-wildlife interactions and their implications for conservation, especially on the use and trade of wild species for wild meat, pet, decoration and medicinal purposes. My research experience ranges from local communities in the Amazon to stakeholders involved in national and international trade. My PhD research is aimed at unveiling the dynamics of the wildlife trade in South America, assessing biological and socioeconomic factors influencing the trade within the continent and to other continents, with a special focus in Brazil. Given that some parts of the world have seen a shift from traditional wildlife markets to online platforms, I am particularly interested in assessing online wildlife trade in order to provide insights for law enforcement, law loopholes amendments and awareness campaigns to promote wildlife conservation. In my thesis, I assess the role of socioeconomic factors in South American countries and between those countries and Asian countries on the domestic and international trade in wild cats, especially jaguars. I also assess whether captive-breeding programmes established in South America are able to provide a sustainable and viable alternative to sourcing animals from the wild, having the primates in Brazil as a case study. There, I compare the current legal e illegal markets assessing the current biological, economic and legal framework of the trade in primates as pets. Still in Brazil, I also estimate the domestic trade in native and exotic venomous snakes and the number of snakebites in the country, assessing the pet trade under the public health perspective. Finally, I evaluate the response of the stakeholders of the online pet market to the association of COVID-19 with wildlife markets and campaigns advocating bans on wildlife trade. My results can be applied by governmental agencies and conservation practitioners to efficiently tackle the wildlife trade in Brazil and other South American countries.


Sustainability, wildlife trade, online pet trade, South America, Brazil, community-based management, biodiversity conservation

General research interests

Sustainable use of wildlife, community-based management, participatory methods, online trade monitoring, motivations for use and trade of wildlife, modelling

Academic School / Department

School of Social Sciences


Work in progress

Research papers

  • Online trade in wildlife and the lack of response to COVID-19
  • Is certifying the trade of captive-bred primates an effective strategy to prevent the illegal trade?
  • On the modes and mechanisms of legal and illegal international trade in jaguars post-CITES enactment
  • A global perspective on trade in jaguar parts from South America
  • Global online trade in live primates for pets
  • Illegal online pet trade in venomous snakes and the distribution of snakebites in Brazil

Journal articles

  • Morcatty, T. Q., Feddema, K., Nekaris, K. A. I., & Nijman, V. (2020). Online trade in wildlife and the lack of response to COVID-19. Environmental Research, 110439. 10.1016/j.envres.2020.110439
  • Morcatty, T. Q.; Macedo, J. C. B.; Nekaris, K. A. I; Ni, Q.; Durigan, C.; Svensson, M. S.; Nijman, V. The illegal trade in wild cats and its link to Chinese-led development in Central and South America. Conservation Biology, 2020.
  • Morcatty, T.; Tavares, A. S.; Valsecchi, J. Adapting a traditional hunting technique to improve capture rates for the endangered yellow-footed tortoise (Chelonoidis denticulatus) during ecological surveys in Amazonia. Journal of Ethnobiology, 40(2), 252-267, 2020.
  • Chaves, W. A., Valle, D., Tavares, A. S., Morcatty, T. Q., & Wilcove, D. S. Impacts of rural to urban migration, urbanization, and generational change on consumption of wild animals in the Amazon. Conservation Biology, 2020.
  • Knoop, S. B.; Morcatty, T.; El Bizri, H. R.; Cheyne, S. M. Age, religious affiliation and taboos influence subsistence hunting by indigenous people of the lower Madeira River, Brazilian Amazon. Journal of Ethnobiology, 40(2), 131-148, 2020.
  • El Bizri, H. R; Morcatty, T. Q.; Ferreira, J. C.; Mayor, P.; Vasconcelos-Neto, C. F.; Valsecchi, J.; Nijman, V.; Fa, J. E. Social and biological correlates of wild meat consumption and trade by rural communities on the Jutaí River basin, central Amazonia. Journal of Ethnobiology, 40(2), 183-201, 2020.
  • Tavares, A. S.; Mayor, P.; Loureiro, L.; Gilmore, M. P.; Perez-Peǹa, P.; Bowler, M.; Lemos, L. P. L.; Svensson. M.; Nekaris, K. A. I.; Nijman, V.; Valsecchi, J.; Morcatty, T. Q. Widespread use of traditional techniques by local people for hunting the yellow-footed tortoise (Chelonoidis denticulatus) across the Amazon. Journal of Ethnobiology, v.04, p.268 - 280, 2020.
  • El Bizri, H. R.; Morcatty, T. Q. (both first authors, listed in alphabetic order); Valsecchi, J.; Mayor, P.; Ribeiro, J. E. S.; Vasconcelos Neto, C. F. A.; Oliveira, J. S.; Furtado, K. M.; Ferreira, U. C.; Miranda, C. F. S.; Silva, C. H.; Lopes, V. L.; Lopes, G. P.; Florindo, C. C. F.; Chagas, R. C.; Nijman, V.; Fa, J. E. Urban wild meat consumption and trade in central Amazonia. Conservation Biology, v.34, p.438 – 448, 2019 DOI: 10.1111/cobi.13420
  • Tavares, A. S; Morcatty, T. Q.; Zuanon, J.; Magnusson, W. E. Influence of body size, topography, food availability and tree-fall gaps on space use by yellow-footed tortoises (Chelonoidis denticulatus) in Central Amazonia. PLoS One, v. 14, p. e0211869, 2019. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0211869
  • Nijman, V.; Morcatty, T.; Smith, J. H.; Atoussi, S.; Shepherd, C. R.; Siriwat, P.; Nekaris, K. A. I.; Bergin, D. Illegal wildlife trade - surveying open animal markets and online platforms to understand the poaching of wild cats. Biodiversity, v. 20, p. 58-61, 2019. DOI: 10.1080/14888386.2019.1568915
  • Mayor, P.; El Bizri, H. R.; Morcatty, T. Q.; Moya, K.; Solis, S.; Bodmer, R. E. Assessing the minimum sampling effort required to reliably monitor wild meat trade in urban markets. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, v. 7, p. 1-8, 2019. DOI: 10.3389/fevo.2019.00180
  • Nekaris, K. A. I.; Weldon, A.; Imron, M. A. ; Maynard, K. Q. ; Nijman, V.; Poindexter, S. A.; Morcatty, T. Q. Venom in furs: facial masks as aposematic signals in a venomous mammal. Toxins, v. 11, p. 93, 2019. DOI: 10.3390/toxins11020093
  • Nijman, V.; Ardiansyah, A.; Bergin, D.; Birot, H.; Brown, E.; Langgeng, A.; Morcatty, T.; Spaan, D.; Siriwat, P.; Imron, M. A.; Nekaris, K. A. I. Dynamics of illegal wildlife trade in Indonesian markets over two decades, illustrated by trade in Sunda Leopard Cats. Biodiversity, v. 20, p. 27-40, 2019. DOI: 10.1080/14888386.2019.1590236
  • Sobral-Souza, T.; Lautenschlager, L.; Morcatty, T. Q.; Bello, C.; Hansen, D.; Galetti, M. Rewilding of defaunated Atlantic Forests with tortoises to restore lost seed dispersal functions. Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation, v. 15, p. 300-307, 2017. DOI: 10.1016/j.pecon.2017.08.005
  • Araujo, N. P.; Kuhn, G. C. S.; Nunes, F. V.; Morcatty, T. Q.; Paglia, A. P.; Svartman, M. Comparative Genomic In Situ Hybridization and the Possible Role of Retroelements in the Karyotypic Evolution of Three Akodontini Species. International Journal of Genomics, v. 2017, p. 5935380, 2017. DOI: 10.1155/2017/5935380
  • Silva, L. C.; Fagundes, C. K.; Ferrara, C. R.; Morcatty, T. Q.; Bernardes, V. C. D.; Acosta, R. K.; Leitao, M. M.; Figueiredo, A. L. C. B.; Tinto, A. F. C. Z.; Lemos, P. F.; Andrade, P. C. M.; Nery-Junior, J. G.; Pereira, M. C. G. Podocnemis expansa (Giant South American River Turtle). Juvenile Movement. Natural History Notes. Herpetological Review, v. 48, p. 622-623, 2017
  • El Bizri, H. R.; Macedo, J. C. B.; Paglia, A. P.; Morcatty, T. Q. Mining undermining Brazil's environment. Science, v. 353, p. 228-228, 2016. DOI: 10.1126/science.aag1111
  • Morcatty, T. Q.; Valsecchi, J. Social, biological, and environmental drivers of the hunting and trade of the endangered yellow-footed tortoise in the Amazon. Ecology and Society, v. 20, p. 3, 2015. DOI: 10.5751/ES-07701-200303
  • Morcatty, T. Q.; Valsecchi, J. Confirming the occurrence of the Endangered yellow-footed tortoise in flooded forests of the Amazon. Oryx, v. 49, p. 577-578, 2015. DOI: 10.1017/S003060531500071X
  • Morcatty, T. Q. Mesoclemmys raniceps. Geographic distribution. Herpetological Review, v. 46, p. 382-382, 2015
  • Morcatty, T. Q.; Cobra, I. V. D. Mesoclemmys heliostemma. Geographic distribution. Herpetological Review, v. 46, p. 381-382, 2015.
  • El Bizri, H. R.; Morcatty, T. Q.; Lima, J. J. S.; Valsecchi, J. The thrill of the chase: uncovering illegal sport hunting in Brazil through YouTubeTM posts. Ecology and Society, v. 20, p. 30, 2015. DOI: 10.5751/ES-07882-200330
  • Morcatty, T. Q.; Valsecchi, J.; Rocha, D. G. Platemys platycephala platycephala. Geographic distribution. Herpetological Review, v. 45, p. 657-657, 2014.
  • Morcatty, T. Q.; El Bizri, H. R.; Carneiro, H.C.S.; Biasizzo, R. L.; Almeri, C. R. O.; Silva, E. S.; Rodrigues, F. H. G.; Figueira, J. E. C. Habitat loss and mammalian extinction patterns: are the reserves in the Quadril á tero Ferrífero, southeastern Brazil, effective in conserving mammals?. Ecological Research, v. 28, p. 935-947, 2013. DOI: 10.1007/s11284-013-1076-3
  • Morcatty, T. Q.; Silva, R. H. P.; Rocha, P. C.; Drumond, M. A. Management of capybaras in the Pampulha Lake: whom it may concern? MG.Biota, v. 5, p. 5-31, 2012


  • Ferrara, C. R.; Fagundes, C. K.; Morcatty, T. Q.; Vogt, R. C. Amazonian Chelonians: Identification and Distribution Guide. 1. ed. Manaus: Wildlife Conservation Society, 2017. v. 1. 182p.

Book chapters

  • Ferrara, C. R.; Morcatty, T. Q.; Fagundes, C. K. Monitoring Plan for Freshwater Chelonians of the Lower Rio Negro, Amazonas, Brazil. In: Didier, K.; Estupiǹán, G. M. B. (Eds.). Monitoring Plan for the Mosaic of Protected Areas of the Lower Rio Negro, Amazonas, Brazil. 1ed. Manaus: Wildlife Conservation Society, 2017, v. 1, p. 1-262

Book chapters in press

  • Gomes, L. P. L. N.; Morcatty, T. Q.; El Bizri, H. R.; Jesus, A. S.; Pezzuti, J.; Ramos, R. M.; Antunes, A. P.; Ferreira, D. S. S.; Santos-Fita, D.; Oliveira, M. A.; Pimenta, N. C.; Calouro, A. M.; Vasconcelos Neto, C. F.; Paula, M. J.; Fonseca, R.; Mayor, P.; Chaves, W. A.; Durigan, C. C.; Valsecchi, J.; Constantino, P. A. L. Subsistence hunting and wild meat trade In: Amazonian Mammals: current knowledge and conservation of large, medium and volant species. 1 ed.: Springer Nature, 2020

Professional information

Memberships of professional bodies

  • Oxford Brookes Department of Social Sciences: Oxford Wildlife Trade Research Group and Nocturnal Primate Research Group


To date, I have done 56 conference presentations in local, national and international conferences, both in the forms of posters or oral presentations. Four presentations were awarded as best conference presentations of their respective events. One of my poster presentations was also selected as remarkable research to be visited by Sir David Attenborough in the Student Conference on Conservation Science 2019, in Cambridge.

  • Morcatty, T. Q.; Nekaris, K. A. I.; Ni, Q.; Nijman, V. The influence of Chinese diaspora and Chinese-led development on the trade in jaguars in Central and South America. In: Student Conference on Conservation Science, Cambridge, UK, 2019
  • Morcatty, T.Q.; Tavares, A. S.; Svensson, M. S.; El Bizri, H. R.; Nekaris, K.A.I.; Nijman, V. Is certifying the trade of captive-bred primates an effective strategy to prevent the illegal trade in Brazil? European Federation of Primatology & the Primate Society of Great Britain International Conference Meeting, Oxford, UK, 2019
  • Morcatty, T.Q.; El Bizri, H.; Bowler, M.; Perez-Peǹa, P.; Vieira, M.; Bertsch, C.; Von Mühlen, E.; Lemos, L; Tavares, A.; Gonçalves, J.; Valsecchi, J.; Fa, J. E.; Mayor, P. Comparing citizen science and linear transects for estimating wildlife abundance in the Amazon. British Ecological Society Annual Meeting, Belfast, UK, 2019
  • Morcatty, T.Q.; Tavares, A. S.; Mayor, P.; Svensson, M. S.; Nekaris, K.A.I.; Valsecchi, J.; Nijman, V.; The traditional knowledge on an Amazonian tortoise and how it helped to improve scientific methods for this game species. VII International Congress of Ethnobotany and I International Congress of Ethnozoology, Recife, Brazil, 2019
  • Morcatty, T. Q.; Figueiredo, F. O. G.; Valsecchi, J.; Werneck, F. P. Community-based hunting monitoring reveals population recovery of endangered freshwater turtles in Amazonia. In: Student Conference on Conservation Science, Cambridge, 2018
  • Morcatty, T. Q.; Santos, A. T.; Loureiro, L. F.; Valsecchi, J. A fauna como recurso medicinal: uso zooter á pico do jabuti-amarelo por comunidades ribeirinhas da Amazônia Central. 12° Simpósio sobre Conservaçào e Manejo Participativo na Amazônia, 2015, Tefé, Brazil, 2015
  • Morcatty, T. Q.; Valsecchi, J. Hunting and trade of yellow-footed tortoise (Chelonoidis denticulata) by traditional communities in the Brazilian Amazon. In: XI International Congress on Management of Amazonian and Latin American Wildlife, 2014, Saint Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago, 2014.

Further details

Academic and professional training

  • Bachelor of Biological Sciences, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Global average score: 4.35/5.0, equivalent to a UK first-class honours degree. 2008 – 2013
  • Master in Ecology, National Institute for Amazonian Research, Manaus, Brazil. “Long-term monitoring of the hunting and trade of chelonians reveals population recovery of endangered freshwater turtles in Central Amazonia”. 2017 – 2018
  • MPhil/PhD Anthropology and Geography, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK. 2018 – Ongoing.

Scholarships and prizes

  • Christensen Conservation Leaders Scholarship Award, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). Period covered 2018-2019. Awarding date: 28 December 2017
  • Sydney Byers Scholarship Award, Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN) Period covered 2018-2019 Awarding date: 4 January 2018
  • WCN Scholar Emergency Fund, Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN) Period covered 2020. Awarding date: 26 September 2020
  • Funds for Women Graduates, British Federation of Women Graduates (BFWG). Period covered 2020-2021. Awarding date: 22 June 2020
  • Ralf-Yorque Memorial Award - The Best Paper of 2015 in the journal Ecology and Society. Awarding date: February 2016

Other experience and professional activities

  • Wildlife Conservation Society – New York, USA - Consultant on Task Force on global assessment on jaguar trade. From August to November 2019
  • Oxford Brookes University – Oxford, United Kingdom - Consultant on Research Impact for the Primate Conservation Research Group: Impact tracker From March 2019 to August 2019
  • Consultant on teaching Introduction to R: Staff development program From April 2019 to July 2019
  • Wildlife Conservation Society – Brazil, Manaus, AM, Brazil - Consultant on Environmental Education in the Community-based Chelonian Conservation Program in the Negro River From April 2016 to February 2017
  • Mamirau á Sustainable Development Institute, Tef é , AM, Brazil - Researcher on Ecology, reproduction and hunting management of Brazilian game chelonians in Sustainable Development Reserves in Central Amazonia From March 2013 to February 2016