FFON. Written by nature detectives.

The Frightened Face of Nature (FFON) – Inspired by the lost manuscript of the real-life 'M'

Founders & Contributors

John E Cooper DTVM, FRCPath, FSB CBiol, FRCVS and Margaret E Cooper LLB, FLS

Margaret E. Cooper LLB, FLS  and Prof. John E. Cooper outside The Linnean Society

John Cooper is part of a husband and wife team, from the United Kingdom. John started life as a keen naturalist, trained as a veterinary surgeon and is now a specialist pathologist with particular interests in wildlife and exotic species, tropical diseases and comparative medicine. He is an Honorary Member of BIAZA and, amongst other appointments, serves as a veterinary advisor to Haith’s, the bird food specialists. With his wife (Margaret Cooper, a non-practising solicitor with special interests in animal and conservation law), he holds several visiting academic appointments.

“John and Margaret Cooper. Two Armchair Naturalists who sometimes take their “armchair” out into the field”


The Coopers have spent nearly twenty years living overseas, especially in Africa, including a period in Rwanda working with the mountain gorillas. In 2009, they returned from nearly seven years at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago where they combined their medical and legal backgrounds in the promotion of an interdisciplinary approach to veterinary and biological education, wildlife conservation and forensic science. They are the authors of two books on animal forensics and various other texts. The Coopers are now based in Britain but travel widely and lecture together in many countries. They continue their voluntary work with wildlife, domesticated animals and rural communities in East Africa. 

John E. Cooper’s most recent published work Gorilla Pathology and Health is now available for pre-order at the Elsevier Store (see below). Maxwell Knight had a life-long interest in gorillas and other primates and in 1968 wrote How to Keep a Gorilla (Wolfe Publishing, London). Maxwell Knight, his work and his influence are referred to in this new gorilla book that contains “extensive information on the health, welfare, and conservation of gorillas,” – Elsevier.


Simon King

Simon H King FLS | Fellow of The Linnean Society of London

Simon is a writer and naturalist whose goal is to change the way we value wildlife.

He is an Associate Director/Chief Digital Officer responsible for research, development and innovation at Haith’s including a BIAZA award-winning quality control programme. He has been the guest speaker at several Department for International Trade (DIT) export events, BIAZA AGMs and seen Haith’s nominated for an HSBC International Award, won the prestigious Board of Trade Award (presented by Secretary of State, Dr Liam Fox) in 2018, and is a Northern Powerhouse Champion.

Simon King at the 2017 BIAZA AGM (The Deep, Hull)

Haith’s research has been shared with veterinary students at Cambridge University, the BIAZA Bird Working Group and the World Pheasant Association. Simon instigated the ‘synchrony through science’ collaboration with Andy Beer (Nutritionist) and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland as the first step to extended ‘seed intelligence’ in 2014.   

Simon King with birding legend Bill Oddie
Simon King and Prof. John Cooper at ZSL 2018.JPG
Simon H King and Prof. John E Cooper meeting at ZSL HQ, London 2018

LinkedIn page: https://www.linkedin.com/in/simon-h-king

FFON Correspondents:

Helen Jeffries (London correspondent) 

Helen Jeffries (London correspondent) is a civil servant currently working on the health sector response to COVID-19.  She is based in central London where she is able to walk to work and observe the natural world in the city, inspired by Maxwell Knight’s “Be a Nature Detective”.

Dr Valerie Jeffries – Kenya and UK correspondent

Dr Valerie Jeffries completed her Genetics PhD at Leeds University and worked in Aquaculture, then Education including for the Open University. Study of Evolution remains her principle interest, not least of the Haplochromin cichlid fish in Lake Victoria.

Susan Underkoffler – Pennsylvania, USA correspondent

Susan Underkoffler, MFS, holds an Associates of Fine Arts degree, two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Conservation Biology and Scientific Illustration from Arcadia University and a Master of Forensic Science degree from Drexel University College of Medicine. She developed an animal forensic science track for Drexel University College of Medicine’s graduate forensics program. She spent many years as Forensics Manager for the Pennsylvania SPCA, where she developed the first Forensics Unit and handled all forensic responsibilities associated with humane law enforcement animal cruelty cases including crime scene documentation, evidence collection and processing, animal forensic exams, necropsies and courtroom preparation, along with assuming veterinary technician responsibilities and management of a court case animal fostering program. She developed and participates in community advocacy initiatives including the establishment of a Philadelphia Hoarding Task Force. She consults regularly with state and local wildlife agencies and NGOs. She also previously worked as an analyst and researcher in the toxicology and criminalistics departments at NMS Laboratories and Fraunhofer Center for Molecular Biotechnology and was an environmental scientist performing wetland delineations, Phase I site assessments, and wildlife monitoring in both Pennsylvania and Delaware. Susan has travelled nationally as a professional consultant and educator for animal cruelty investigations. She has conducted international research in several African countries, including primate behavior and habitat conservation in Equatorial Guinea, Africa, and elephant tracking, censusing and behavior monitoring in Namibia, Africa. She also studied elephant social behavior at the Philadelphia Zoo. She has published scientific articles and biological and scientific illustrations in numerous publications. Her research areas include elephant conservation, management, and community ecology, and carrion ecology and decomposition of large herbivores and carnivores. Susan is active in many professional organizations including the Society for Conservation Biology, Animal Behavior Society, Guild of Natural Science Illustrators, Association of Women in Forensic Science, American Academy of Forensic Science, and the International Association for Identification, and she currently serves on the Board of the International Veterinary Forensic Sciences Association. She also serves on the Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Animal Response Teams. She is the proud pet parent of a rescued pit bull and four former shelter cats.

Christopher Robert Middleton FLS







Multidisciplinary scientist and Executive Director of Middleton Global Research. Author, philosopher, lecturer and associate of the University of Cambridge.

Graham Wellstead – Birds of prey both wild and as a professional falconer since 1990.

Me with my very smart Harris Hawk ‘Burlington Bertie (Bert) not only immaculate but also very clever.

About Graham: “I have lived most of my life in Surrey, a passionate naturalist since the age of five, following the great names of the day, Maxwell Knight, Bramwell Evans and my particular guru Ludwig Koch the premier natural sounds recordist. My particular interest, which began in 1948 and continues, is birds of prey both wild and as a professional falconer since 1990. I write articles on birds and bird keeping, for Cage & Aviary Magazine. I have kept most of the mustalid group, including the domestic ferret, and the European Polecat, which I bred 134 animals, released into suitable places over a period of 6 years. I also bred and released Barn Owls, was a consultant on the introduction of a licence scheme for releasing the species, and continued to do so until captive releases were eventually banned.”

Wes Hooper – Australian correspondent

Wes has now retired from the financial services industry, where he worked for almost 40 years in a number of roles including IT, strategic planning, project management and executive management of operational activities. A particular specialisation was in the areas of the payments system and transaction processing.

As part of these roles, Wes also worked on banking industry boards & committees with other banks and the industry regulator. He was involved in establishing and then was a founding director of the Australian Payments Network Limited and was chair of the Australian Paper Clearing System Management Committee.
He has served in a variety of leadership , pastoral and administrative roles in his local church.

At one stage for several years, Wes played trumpet in the Sydney Anglican Cathedral orchestra and prepared musical arrangements for the orchestra and cathedral choir.

His hobbies include photography, writing short orchestral music pieces and family history research

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