Class 5: When They Joined EWCL
Abdullahi Hussein Ali is a Kenyan National interested in wildlife ecology and conservation of arid ecosystem particularly in the biodiversity rich horn of Africa region. His current work is focusing on the ecology and conservation of the globally endangered hirola antelope (Beatragus hunteri) in northeastern Kenya. This unique antelope is restricted to the Kenya-Somalia border and it is the world’s most endangered antelope. Ali grew up in a small village on the outskirts of Garissa town; a city located nearly 400 KM northeast of the capital Nairobi, Kenya. His rural home coincides with the geographic range of the hirola antelope and over the years Ali watched the dwindling of the species; today he is endeavoring to save them from extinction.
Ali received his master’s degree in conservation biology (2010) and his bachelor’s degree in wildlife management (2005), both from the University of Nairobi. Ali is now a third-year doctoral student in the Program in Ecology (PIE) at the University of Wyoming and an EDGE (Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered) Fellow, sponsored by the Zoological Society of London. Since 2005, Ali has been working with National Museums of Kenya as field ecologist, much of his work focused on dryland biodiversity conservation in northeastern Kenya.
His PhD dissertation is focusing on hirola population dynamics, habitat use, and the effects of land-use change for hirola. These are knowledge gaps that have been consistently identified as research priorities for future hirola conservation. Ali and his team employ GPS telemetry using Vectronics GPS plus collars, mark-resight and sight-resight analyses to gather unprecedented information on hirola demography and movement. In addition, they are analysing multi-temporal remotely-sensed imagery to determine the collective impacts of overgrazing, fire suppression, and elephant reductions on shrub encroachment in the area.
Although hirola have never been common, they have dwindled in number from roughly 10,000 in 1970 to somewhere around 300-500 today. The reasons for this decline (and equally the reasons preventing contemporary recovery) are mysterious; formal research in this geographic area has been logistically difficult given political unrest and tribalism. However, Ali and his team suspect that a combination of habitat loss; competition with livestock; predation; disease; and drought have been responsible for historic declines while predation and range degradation are combining to suppress contemporary recovery. Results from his research will be used to guide management strategies through the Hirola Management Committee of the Kenya Wildlife Service.
Kelly Boyer is a doctoral student in the Anthropology Department at Iowa State University and founder of the Falémé Chimpanzee Conservation (FCC) project. Her love of primates as a child has fueled her career path as a primatologist and conservationist throughout her life.
Graduating in 2002 with a BA in Animal Behavior from Franklin and Marshall College, Kelly has since worked as a primate zookeeper at the Houston Zoo, a chimpanzee caretaker at the Center for Chimpanzee Conservation in Guinea, and project manager at the Fongoli Savanna Chimpanzee research site in Senegal. In 2010 she completed her M.A. in Anthropology from Iowa State studying the density and distribution of previously unstudied chimpanzee populations in southeastern Senegal. This research led her to establish the FCC project in the same year to promote chimpanzee conservation through education, stakeholder collaboration and ecological research in Senegal. Today she continues to study unhabituated chimpanzee groups in Senegal using non-invasive methods such as camera traps, nest surveys and interviews with local people. Her research interests are in human/wildlife conflict and effects of anthropogenic activities on chimpanzees and their habitat.
Along with hopping back and forth between Senegal and Iowa, Kelly also enjoys running, salsa dancing, and yoga-ing.
Daniel Brizuela grew up in the tropical forests of southeastern Mexico surrounded not only by the wonders of the natural world, but also by the deforestation and habitat destruction that has occurred in the name of economic development. Since then he has had a passion for environmental conservation- both in making a case for protecting the planet’s natural resources, as well as seeking the coexistence of nature and human progress. He is a Program Officer at the World Wildlife Fund, working on sustainable Agriculture and helping corporations identify environmental and social impacts of the production of the Agricultural commodities in their supply chains. He recently received a Master’s degree in Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development from the University of Maryland. He also has Bachelor’s degrees in Wildlife Biology and Photojournalism from the University of Wyoming. Daniel has a wide range of skills and experiences, ranging from being an environmental educator in Hawaii, to doing field research with Ocelots and Coyotes in Western Mexico, to web design and programming (in cyberspace). He is particularly interested in the intersection of science, technology and communications and how these tools can be most effectively applied in the realm of biodiversity conservation.
Brandon Davis is an Animal Training Supervisor for SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment in Orlando, Florida. Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Brandon grew up enjoying nature and the outdoors and soon realized how important it was to protect and foster it. During his undergraduate work at Davidson (NC) College, Brandon volunteered at the Carolina Raptor Center as a rehabilitator for sick and injured birds-of-prey. Before receiving his degree in Biology, he was honored to have been chosen as host student for visiting scientist Dr. Jane Goodall, whose passion and commitment was contagious and further fed his interest in conservation. Recently, Brandon has coordinated a collaborative effort between the University of Central Florida, SeaWorld Orlando, the Smithsonian National Zoo, and the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute to examine the transition to nutritional independence in pinniped pups in an effort to improve the husbandry of sea lions within zoological facilities.
Brandon’s professional career began at the Columbus Zoo before eventually leading to SeaWorld Orlando. His experience includes working with a variety of animal species, including marine mammals such as sea lions, dolphins and killer whales, as well as various species of birds and small mammals. As the supervisor of SeaWorld’s Animal Ambassador Team, Brandon was able to witness how much impact even the smallest of animals can have on people and their interest in helping the environment. In addition, as a volunteer for the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, Brandon has had the privilege of seeing how people’s support can directly impact conservation efforts in the field. For the past several years, Brandon has also had the privilege to serve as SeaWorld Orlando’s animal ambassador and spokesman throughout the country. He particularly enjoys bringing animals into the classroom where he tries to help children realize that they too can make a difference and hopefully become tomorrow’s conservation leaders. Brandon looks forward to gathering with colleagues and mentors as a participant in the 2013-2014 Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders Program.
Kelly M. Donithan Kelly is the Wildlife Rescue Program Officer at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), based at their international headquarters on Cape Cod, MA. Among many wildlife rescue projects, she is currently focusing largely on the captive big cat crisis in the United States. She is also pursuing an online graduate certificate in Conservation Criminology from Michigan State University. An Arizona native, Kelly holds a B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Arizona and a M.S. in Conservation Medicine from Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. Her experience includes wildlife rehabilitation, biodiversity field research, domestic animal and captive wildlife care, species conservation, educational outreach, and international travel. She previously worked as an Animal Care Specialist at White Oak Conservation Center in Northeastern Florida, a private facility specializing in the propagation, research and rehabilitation of endangered species. Her interests include international wildlife trade, exotic pets, bushmeat, wildlife rehabilitation, and conservation conflict resolution. She lives on Cape Cod with her two dogs and one cat.
Kevin Green is Manager of Conservation Research and Monitoring at Rare, where he collaborates with field staff on impact evaluation and research initiatives. He has also spent time as a research fellow at The Nature Conservancy and research assistant at the Worldwatch Institute. Kevin earned a BA with majors in Philosophy, Sociology and Anthropology from Washington & Lee University, where his thesis, 21st Century Life in the Woods, explored the relationship between the human species and its natural environment through the lens of value theory and environmental ethics. He also holds an MA in International Development and Economics from Johns Hopkins University. He has lived in Cambodia and Italy, studied abroad in China, and speaks decent Spanish. He currently lives in Alexandria, VA with his wife, Amanda.
Laura Gruber grew up in a household of wildlife research biologists. She spent her childhood observing and assisting in local and international field studies, attending lectures, and volunteering in an endocrine lab. She began her career at the Zoological Society of San Diego as an Assistant to the Goodwill Ambassador, Joan Embery, providing conservation based presentations to family groups, corporate events and television audiences. She moved on to become an Animal Care Specialist, working with over 100 exotic species, focusing on the husbandry of endangered species and their reproduction, including the Arabian oryx and Somali wild ass. She graduated San Diego State University with a BS in Biology.
Laura currently works for Disney’s Animal Kingdom in the Animal Science and Environment division as an Animal Care Specialist. She manages a diverse collection of animals at the park, educates and inspires guests about conservation, participates in on-site native wildlife studies, and facilitates research studies with various animal science teams. Laura also works with a non-profit, Papoose Conservation Wildlife Foundation, as the Education Outreach Coordinator. The foundation inspires the conservation leaders of tomorrow by providing funding to programs that get children into nature, as well as supporting biodiversity through funding scientific studies of lesser known species. She has met with local conservation educators in Rwanda and Uganda to learn about their programs and brainstorm on potential funding possibilities through Papoose. In her free time Laura volunteers in events that encourage children to experience nature, participates in education outreach programs through Audubon Center for Birds of Prey, and cares for her personal reptile collection which includes animals managed through the Turtle Survival Alliance.
Anna M. Harris, an employee of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, oversees implementation of Conserving the Future, the 10-year strategic vision for the Refuge System. She took over as the implementation coordinator on April 9, 2011.
Harris was an economist with the Service since 2009, interpreting the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation. She has worked closely with a host of partners, including, for example, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the State Organizations for Boating Access. She has been actively involved with Trout Unlimited and the National Wild Turkey Federation, and teaches fly fishing to breast cancer survivors through the Casting for Recovery organization.
She holds an undergraduate degree in agribusiness management and rural development from West Virginia University and a master’s degree in agricultural and applied economics from Virginia Tech. The author of numerous papers, Anna received the Unit Award for Excellence in Service from the Department of the Interior in 2010.
Peter LaFontaine is the Energy Policy Advocate for the National Wildlife Federation, the country’s largest conservation organization, where he works to promote the transition from fossil fuels to a clean energy economy. He currently leads the organization’s tar sands campaign, with a focus on stopping the Keystone XL pipeline and other infrastructure projects, and implements federal strategy for coal exports in the Pacific Northwest and Intermountain West.
Peter grew up in New Hampshire and graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2005. He taught outdoor education as the staff naturalist for the Cottonwood Gulch Foundation, a nonprofit geared toward experiential learning and wilderness ethics in the American southwest, before joining NWF in 2008. In various roles with the Federation Peter has worked on a range of issues including offshore drilling and natural resources adaptation. In his free time he also watches videos of baby sloths on YouTube.
Peter Lalampaa, born in Samburu, Kenya, is the Senior Manager of the Grevy’s Zebra Trust working in northern Kenya with pastoral communities to address the decline of Grevy’s zebra, an endangered species. Peter was brought up in pastoral system where he herded livestock before pursuing his career. Both of his parents were pastoralists, where the livelihood dictates that people have to move with livestock in search of pasture and water. After high school, Peter studied at Kenyatta University for five years graduating in 2007 with a degree in Environmental Science and in 2011 Peter graduated from the University of Kent, UK with an MSc in Conservation Biology. Coming from Samburu, Peter has a special affinity for the area and a desire to give back to his community and the land they depend on. This connection has strengthened his dedication to wildlife conservation as he recognizes that the future of pastoral livelihoods is also dependent on the same resources. Thus by conserving wildlife and its habitat he will also be able to improve the livelihoods of his people, creating a win-win situation.
Jerenimo Lepirei was born in Archer’s Post, northern Kenya. Growing up immediately outside of a protected area and having witnessed human-wildlife conflict within his community, he became interested in wildlife from an early age, especially the potential to solve conflicts and promote the coexistence of humans and wildlife. He first became involved in conservation as a research assistant for EwasoLions, where he helped to identify lions individually in the greater Samburu ecosystem.He expanded his interest in individual-based research as an assistant for the Reticulated Giraffe Project, where he collected demographic census data on the population within Samburu National Reserve. He is currently a research assistant at Save the Elephants, where he has worked for the last five years conducting long-term individual-based monitoring of the African elephant subpopulation that uses Samburu and Buffalo Springs National Reserves. Jerenimo is always happy to get any opportunity to serve wildlife and is firmly committed to a career in conservation through research and collaboration.
Ya-Wei (Jake) Li works at Defenders of Wildlife, where he uses law, policy, and science to conserve species under the Endangered Species Act. He focuses on making implementation of the Act more effective and efficient, especially through advocating for methods to improve listing decisions, recovery planning, habitat protection, and conservation of species at risk of imperilment. He also works with other non-profit organizations, federal and state agencies, and industry to find common ground on contentious endangered species issues.
Before working at Defenders, Jake was an environmental lawyer in private practice, where he counseled clients and litigated cases relating to endangered species, air and water contaminants, pesticides, chemical regulation, and renewable energy. He holds a J.D. from Cornell Law School and a B.S. from Drexel University. At Cornell, Jake also completed coursework in conservation biology and herpetology. He has volunteered as a zookeeper aide at the Reptile Discovery Center in the Smithsonian National Zoo. He is obsessed with snakes and has been working with them for over 20 years.
Onkuri Majumdar is currently with Freeland Foundation, which works across regions in Asia to assist governments to end wildlife trafficking. She has worked on investigations against some of the region’s biggest tiger traffickers, as well as against traders of illegally sourced exotic pets, and was featured in a National Geographic series, “Crimes Against Nature”. Onkuri is developing new programs for South Asia, in addition to facilitating the sharing of information and best practices between government agencies.
Earlier, Onkuri worked in India, managing a team of lawyers who were sent to assist public prosecutors fighting wildlife crime cases; she also drafted Public Interest Litigations to a special Supreme Court committee on the protection of important wildlife habitats. Her most unforgettable wildlife memories include being charged by rhinos in Kaziranga, seeing sharks in the crystal clear waters of the Lakshadweep islands, and encountering wild tigers close up while conducting a tiger census in Ranthambhore.
She now commutes between New Delhi and Bangkok, expanding Freeland’s activities.
Maximilian Maurer grew up on the coast of Georgia, where he developed his fascination with turtles and the natural world. He studied Economics and language at Emory University and now works as a Research Associate for the Turtle Conservancy based in their offices in New York City.
In 2008 he shifted his focus to turtles in a professional capacity when he became the Georgia Sea Turtle Center’s Husbandry Intern under the direction of Dr. Terry Norton. The Spring of 2009 was spent in the Mojave Desert as a Field Technician conducting line distance sampling for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Desert Tortoise Recovery Office. Max later traveled to the West Indies to help collect data on leatherback sea turtles nesting on the beaches of St. Kitts. For the past three years, he has worked with the Turtle Conservancy Team on several conservation initiatives to protect a number of Critically Endangered species of turtles and tortoises and their around the world.
The desire to preserve the natural world has led Max to EWCL and with this unique opportunity he hopes to achieve this goal.
Katherine McHugh is a post-doctoral scientist working with the Chicago Zoological Society’s Sarasota Dolphin Research Program (SDRP). With a lifelong interest in marine wildlife conservation, she began studying wild dolphins with the SDRP as an intern in 2000 while completing B.S. and M.S. degrees in Earth Systems at Stanford University. After a short detour that included assisting with small cetacean research in the Bahamas and New Zealand and a yearlong fellowship working on marine protected area fisheries management at Environmental Defense, Katherine returned to the SDRP as a graduate student researcher in 2004, completing her Ph.D. in animal behavior at the University of California Davis studying juvenile dolphin behavior and the effects of harmful algal blooms on dolphins. Since completing her Ph.D., Katherine has remained with the SDRP working on research aimed at understanding and mitigating adverse human-dolphin interactions, and she is also responsible for coordinating training programs for undergraduate interns and international trainees.
David Moen has worked in avian monitoring and environmental education since 1998. Among other projects, David has assisted with Sage Grouse monitoring in Oregon and Aplomado Falcon recovery in Texas. David has been actively engaged in California Condor research and management since 2002, when he joined Ventana Wildlife Society as an intern. His interest in Condors developed into a graduate degree program at Portland State University focusing on condor restoration. He conducted the first California Condor habitat assessments in the Pacific Northwest and designed research methods to search for former nesting sites in Oregon. During that time, David partnered with the Oregon Zoo, providing tours of the condor breeding facility and outreach presentations to over 2,500 people. David rejoined Ventana Wildlife Society’s Species Recovery Program in 2011 after an internship with Santa Barbara Zoo, during which he further developed condor field experience by assisting with nest entries, field observations, and condor trap-ups.
Elly Pepper, as a Wildlife and Legislative Advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council, lobbies for pro-environmental policies at the federal level on a variety of issues, including wildlife, offshore drilling, and public lands. Additionally, as part of her wildlife portfolio, she works to achieve international protections for wildlife under the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species (CITES). In this capacity, she is currently involved in NRDC’s campaign to ban the international commercial trade in polar bear parts.
Prior to joining NRDC, Elly worked on Gulf coast restoration at the Environmental Defense Fund. Before law school, she cared for and rehabilitated injured wild animals and taught wildlife ecology to students, veterans, and others at the Chewonki Foundation in her home state of Maine. Elly received her B.A. from Bowdoin College and her J.D. from the University of Richmond.
Enzo Aliaga-Rossel : I am a biologist from Bolivia, I did my Masters and PhD in USA; my research interests in a broad sense are: tropical ecology; animal-plant interactions; mammal ecology and conservation; ethnozoology; the participation of indigenous and local people in use of resources; and conflicts animal-people over conservation. Including activities of environmental education. I am interested also in tropical terrestrial mammal movement and its relations with food, habitat use, and interactions with other wildlife. These involve the use of technology. I conducted a radio-telemetry study of the ecology and use of space of agoutis (Dasyprocta punctata) in BCI-Panama. This was one of the first studies of its kind in the Centro American neotropics; it provided important information on the agouti home range, use of habitat and resources, and predation. Recently I’ve been studying in Bolivia, the effects of the presence of different mammal densities on survivorship of seed and seedlings, I focused on the presence of white-lipped peccaries, and the effect of this species over a Palm, I find out that in the absence of the peccaries (due to human hunting), the densities of the palm seedling increases, affecting the adult densities, and therefore the forest structure. Also, and for many years I am involved in the conservation and research of the Bolivian river dolphin (Inia boliviensis), and endemic cetacean that lives in the tropical rivers of Bolivia, this species was declared as Natural heritage of the country, however the threats to the habitat and the populations are pressuring this species.
Gabriella Skollar-Charnofsky has been working for the Gibbon Conservation Center (GCC) for 8 years. The GCC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of gibbons by promoting public education, supporting habitat preservation, furthering study and advancing care practices. The GCC houses approximately 40 gibbons, representing five of the seventeen species, 2 of which are highly endangered.
Gabriella graduated in 2004 with a Master’s degree in Biology at the University of Szeged, in Hungary. She first became involved with gibbons when her University adviser asked her to record Kaszat, a northern white-cheeked gibbon in the Szeged Zoo. After many hours of early morning recording and observation, it became her passion to study gibbon vocalization. Gabriella moved to the U.S. in 2005 to work as a volunteer caregiver and researcher at the GCC, originally supported by the Rosztoczy Scholarship. In 2007 she became a full time Primate Caregiver and Research Assistant. In November 2011 Gabriella became the Primary Caregiver responsible for the day-to-day care and health of the gibbons, and the supervision of other caregivers, maintenance staff and volunteers. She is an active participant in the gibbon zoological and scientific communities worldwide. She gives educational lectures and tours at the GCC, focusing on gibbon conservation and behavior. Gabriella has presented at international conferences on gibbon husbandry, cognition and social behavior. Currently her studies focus on gibbon vocalization and social behavior, with the goal that her studies will support gibbon conservation efforts. Gabriella wants to dedicate her life to protect and study gibbons, and educate others about these fascinating primates.
Lela Stanley is the Regional Development Officer in Conservation International’s Asia-Pacific Field Division. At CI, she works with country programs including New Caledonia, Cambodia, and Papua New Guinea on strategic development; fundraising and donor management with bilateral, multilateral, foundation, and individual partners; and provides writing and managerial support. Lela also supports CI’s engagement in the Pacific Oceanscape, the world’s largest multinational integrated ocean and islands conservation and management initiative, spearheaded by leaders of Pacific Island nations and territories. Before joining CI in 2006, Lela worked on plant ecology and ornithology research projects in Panama, various U.S. states, and the Bay of Fundy, Canada, and studied tropical plant biology and ethnobotany in Ecuador. She currently volunteers with City Wildlife’s Lights Out program, in Washington, DC. Lela holds a B.A. in biology from Bowdoin College and is a keen photographer.
Leigh Whelpton is the program manager for a new initiative at Island Press, the Conservation Finance Network. This program aims to build a coordinated network of conservation finance practitioners to advance land and resource conservation through creative finance and innovation. Leigh is a recent graduate of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where she focused on landscape-level conservation and international development. During this time, Leigh worked for the Center for Business and the Environment at Yale and interned with the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations. Prior to grad school, Leigh worked as an Executive Assistant and International Course Administrator for the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) in Namibia. Along with managing CCF’s research, conservation, and education initiatives, she administered training courses on Conservation Biology and Integrated Livestock, Wildlife, and Predator Management for conservation practitioners from cheetah-range countries. Leigh holds a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies with a focus in Political Ecology from the University of California at Berkeley.
Jessica Zelt works as a Program Coordinator for the North American Bird Phenology Program at USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Jessica built this worldwide citizen science program to illuminate the effects of climate change on migratory bird patterns throughout North America while engaging the public in science. Before working for USGS, Jessica worked for the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, the Conservancy for Southwest Florida and Colorado State University on various ornithological research studies and environmental education. She holds a B.S. in Environmental Science and Policy from the University of Maryland. Jessica is a frequent speaker on engaging citizens in scientific research and has been interviewed about the North American Bird Phenology Program by CNN, ABC News, PRI, BioScience and Wired.com.