Dr Brendan Moyle

Economist and wildlife conservationist

Brendan Moyle

Brendan Moyle is on a mission to save the tiger species from extinction.


Brendan Moyle is an economist, on a mission to save rare species from extinction.

But, far from simply creating graphs, or crunching numbers, he has travelled the world, tracked smugglers’ routes and had his vehicle shot at – because he spends his days studying and understanding the complex black market in the trade of tiger products.

As a wildlife economist, he is on a mission to save the tiger species from extinction.

Since he was young, Brendan has been passionate about animals (particularly pseudoscorpions – small arachnids with pincers like scorpions!) so he always knew he would eventually work in conservation.

After finishing school, he studied for a Bachelor of Science in biology followed by a Masters in Science. He then went on to complete his PhD in economics.

Now he’s a lecturer at Massey and travels to China twice a year to analyse the black market and help track down those illegally trading tiger products.

There are 3000 wild tigers left in the world and every year more than 300 are killed and illegally sold on the black market. Tiger parts end up in many different countries including China, Central Asia and other Asian countries. In Tibet the skins are made into costumes and the bones are in high demand in China as a traditional medicine to treat severe bone diseases.

A hunter would be offered about NZ$1800 to shoot a tiger – that’s about a hundred times an annual salary for someone living in rural Asia or Africa. So it’s no surprise that tigers are being poached.

Brendan is also trying to break down the trade of ivory (elephant tusks) and is part of the fight to save rhinos. There are about 3000 rhinos left in the world (worth around NZ$302,000 on the black market).

“There is no easy fix to ending the trade of tigers and other wildlife,” says Brendan, “but if we don’t try to find solutions we will lose some of the worlds most beautiful creatures. 

“Being a wildlife conservationist is considered to be one of the most depressing jobs in the world: the world really isn’t often on these poor animals side, but I know my work is making a difference.”