Action for Cheetahs – Kenya Full Time Team

Mary Wykstra-Ross, MEM., Principal Investigator and ACK Director

Since 2009, Mary is the Director of Action for Cheetahs in Kenya (ACK), and was the Kenya Director for Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) from 2001 to 2008. She has expe­ri­ence in both Kenya and in Namibia with data col­lec­tion, chee­tah research tech­niques, cap­ture and immo­bi­liza­tion, com­mu­nity devel­op­ment and edu­ca­tion. Mary com­pleted a Master’s of Environmental Management degree at Yale University in 2011. Mary’s autho­riza­tion is through the Kenya Ministry of Science and Technology in affil­i­a­tion with the Kenya Wildlife Service and CCF. Mary works within the com­mu­ni­ties to ini­ti­ate pro­grams in research, com­mu­nity devel­op­ment and edu­ca­tion. Mary coor­di­nates all research and com­mu­nity devel­op­ment activ­i­ties related to chee­tah con­ser­va­tion research, she is the liai­son to ACK part­ners and man­ages the admin­is­tra­tive side of ACK.

Cosmas Wambua, M.Sc., ACK Senior Research Scientist

Cosmas returning from field

Cosmas was hired by CCF as a research sci­en­tist in Kenya in 2002 and con­tin­ues as the Senior Research Scientist for ACK. His expe­ri­ence in eco­log­i­cal mon­i­tor­ing began in KWS in 2001 after com­ple­tion of his Bachelor of Science from Dr. B. R. Amdedkar University (Agra) in India. He stud­ied wildlife den­sity, dis­tri­b­u­tion, and abun­dance in the Salama region and earned a M.Sc. degree from Addis Abba University in Ethiopia in 2008. He is pro­fi­cient at mon­i­tor­ing tech­niques and map­ping results with ArcGIS. Cosmas main­tains the ACK data base, devel­ops research meth­ods and super­vises the staff and stu­dents to assure con­sis­tency in data col­lec­tion for com­par­a­tive analysis.

Kenneth Ayumba Mwange

Began work­ing as the Nairobi house care­taker in 2008. Ken is the smil­ing face that every­one remem­bers as he keeps the gar­den and the home in Nairobi neat and cares for our staff and volunteers.


Lumumba Mutiso, Salama Community Liason Officer

As the Community Liaison Officer, Lumumba Mutiso is the eyes and ears of ACK since 2004. In 2003, when his live­stock were attacked by chee­tahs in the Salama area, he took an inter­est in want­ing to know more about the preda­tors after meet­ing the ACK staff. He assists with research activ­i­ties such as radio track­ing, game counts, immo­bi­liza­tions, and necropsy. However, his focus of work is in col­lec­tion of infor­ma­tion on chee­tah sight­ings, live­stock losses and main­tain­ing rela­tions with live­stock managers. He inter­views the farm­ers with courage even if some of them occa­sion­ally are angry with the chee­tahs over the loss of their live­stock and at times threaten them with pan­gas (machete). In 2007 Lumumba attended the inte­grated Wildlife and Livestock Management Training and Cheetah Biology work­shops at CCF in Namibia to improve his skills in con­flict mitigation.

Jimmy Muli Kasingo, Community Field Officer

Jimmy sporting new rain coat donated by Wendy Dabbas of Cat Haven

Began work­ing with ACK as a chee­tah scout in 2009. Jimmy had prior research expe­ri­ence work­ing with stu­dents from the University of Nairobi study­ing spring­hare in the 1980’s. Lives on his farm in the Kiu area of the Salama study site and cov­ers a por­tion of Kiu, Aimi and Malili regions.

Pius K Wamunyu, Community Field Officer

Pius heads out to investigate livestock loss

Began work­ing with ACK as a chee­tah scout in 2009. Pius was a tai­lor by trade and still man­ages a small tai­lor shop in Salama. He had a keen inter­est in the wildlife in the area and dur­ing his inter­view he was well orga­nized and wanted to make a dif­fer­ence in the com­mu­nity. He lives in Salama and has a farm in the Mukaa dis­trict. He cov­ers the south­ern por­tion of Kiu, Aimi and Malili regions.


Chris Simon Lentaam, Samburu Community Liason Officer


Chris was born and raised in the Samburu and Laikipia Districts. In the north­ern arid areas of Kenya peo­ple share scarce resources (par­tic­u­larly water), and range­land with wildlife. This is how Chris became famil­iar with wildlife and devel­oped a love for all animals. He com­pleted his O-level (High School) edu­ca­tion at Maralel High School. He did not have the funds to attend col­lege imme­di­ately so he vol­un­teered to work with the Meibae Conservancy. He was intro­duced to ACK as a young man with a pas­sion for con­ser­va­tion, and began work­ing with us in March 2010. Chris says, “This makes me proud since work­ing in wildlife con­ser­va­tion was my ambi­tion. Cheetahs are calm to peo­ple hence we can live together!”

Kinosi Moses, Community Field Officer


Moses attended Maralel High School. He was an assis­tant teacher at a local pri­mary school after leav­ing High School, but had aspired to work with the rangers in the Conservancy. He was a close runner-up when posi­tions were filled in late 2011 and was one of the first rec­om­mended to us by the con­ser­vancy chair­man when we were ready to hire more field offi­cers. Moses enjoys being in nature and learn­ing from it each day.

Souhl Karandura Lemuntere, Community Field Officer


Soulh com­pleted his O-level (High School) edu­ca­tion at Maralel High School. He was raised in the Lpus por­tion of the Meibae Conservancy. He had also applied for ranger train­ing and was highly rec­om­mended by the con­ser­vancy man­ager. Soulh cov­ers the region of the con­ser­vancy with the high­est ele­phant num­bers and he encoun­ters them every day. He most enjoys watch­ing the ani­mals and read­ing the signs they pro­vide to learn more about ani­mal behaviours.


Erica Hermsen, M.Sc., ACK Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator

Duma Goat

Erica first joined ACK as an intern in 2011, then returned in 2012 to com­plete her MS the­sis. She con­ducted a cam­era trap sur­vey using bait sta­tions to eval­u­ate the effec­tive­ness of dif­fer­ent scents, sounds, and mov­ing objects at lur­ing chee­tahs for trap­ping and radio col­lar­ing. In addi­tion to her Master of Science degree in Conservation Biology from Antioch University New England, she has a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from Western Washington University. Erica is most pas­sion­ate about con­nect­ing peo­ple to in-situ con­ser­va­tion efforts through edu­ca­tion and out­reach. She cur­rently works as an envi­ron­men­tal con­sul­tant with CB&I.

Deanna RussellACK Volunteer and Research Assistant


Deanna vol­un­teered with ACK in 2012 and assisted with Erica’s camera-trapping research and Morgan’s fecal col­lec­tion work. Deanna stud­ied Wildlife and Fisheries Science at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry where she worked on sev­eral research projects includ­ing a camera-trap sur­vey of sea birds. She will return to work with ACK as the lead research assis­tant in Morgan’s the fecal col­lec­tion effort, using a spe­cially trained snif­fer dog to detect chee­tah scat. Deanna hopes to work as a wildlife biol­o­gist and work with chee­tahs and other carnivores.

Peter Barber, ACK Volunteer

Peter assisting with faecal collection

Peter has been a vol­un­teer with ACK since 2006 and has made numer­ous trips to Kenya since 2006 to assist ACK and to explore Kenya. Peter’s back­ground is in Marketing/Sales and Project Management. He was the Project Manager for the recon­struc­tion por­tion of one of our major com­mu­nity devel­op­ment projects – the Cattle Dip project in Salama. Peter spends most of his time in Kenya now. He assists with all aspects of ACK work — research, date entry, facil­ity main­te­nance, vehi­cle main­te­nance as well as edit­ing newslet­ters, reports and help­ing with fund raising.

Dr. Moshin Likoniwalla

In 2010, we sought some assis­tance in radio col­lar­ing. It hap­pened on more than one occa­sion that we sched­uled our field work for col­lar­ing with the KWS vet­eri­nary depart­ment, but in the mid­dle of the exer­cise there is a wildlife emer­gency requir­ing the vet­eri­nar­ian assist­ing us to be called away. The KWS vet­eri­nary staff is small with huge respon­si­bil­i­ties, and are the super­vi­sors of our radio col­lar­ing exer­cises. Since time and resources go into each col­lar­ing attempt it is not con­ve­nient to change our plans. Dr Mohsin agreed to be a back-up. He com­pleted his DVM in 1993 after which he went into pri­vate prac­tice. He has been a vet­eri­nar­ian with the Colobus Trust 1995 – 2008 dart­ing and treat­ing injured pri­mates, and also had wildlife med­ical expe­ri­ence in Shimba Hills Reserve and Mwaluganje. He has been in pri­vate prac­tice for the since 1995 with The Andy’s Veterinary Clinics in Nairobi and Mombasa. In 2010, he accom­pa­nied KWS vet­eri­nary staff on var­i­ous field exer­cises to enable their endorse­ment for his assis­tance not only with chee­tah work, but also as a backup vet­eri­nar­ian for other wildlife emergencies.


Adrienne Crosier is a Cheetah Biologist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute Center for Species Survival. She will be directly super­vis­ing Morgan and will advise Nelson. She is also work­ing with Erica for pilot test­ing of cam­era trap stud­ies. Dr. Crosier received a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science and a Ph.D. in Physiology and Biotechnology from North Carolina State University in 2001. Dr. Crosier is a Cheetah Biologist spe­cial­iz­ing in chee­tah repro­duc­tion and health at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI). Dr. Crosier has over 9 years expe­ri­ence in chee­tah repro­duc­tive biol­ogy and has per­formed over 600 semen col­lec­tion pro­ce­dures on felids. Dr. Crosier has also led the SCBI research team con­duct­ing inter­na­tional stud­ies on chee­tah oocyte qual­ity and endocrinol­ogy since 2005. She is an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor at George Mason University. She will be advis­ing on the col­lec­tion and analy­sis of fae­cal sam­ples for prey and hor­mone analy­sis, and the aca­d­e­mic advi­sor for stu­dent col­lab­o­ra­tion in chee­tah health stud­ies in Kenya.

We also have the sup­port of the Cheetah Conservation fund in this project …

Anne Schmidt-Kuentzel, DVM, PhD is the Assistant Director for Animal Health and Research head­ing the Applied Biosystems Genetic Conservation Laboratory for Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia. CCF Director, Dr. Laurie Marker, has offered con­sul­tancy through the exper­tise of CCF in any aspect that we need. Anne joined CCF in 2008 to con­duct genetic research on Cheetahs in Namibia, rather than to have to export sam­ples to lab­o­ra­to­ries in the USA or Europe with a large part of the research focused on non-invasive sam­ples (scat). From 2002 to 2008 Anne worked in Dr. Stephen O’Brien’s Laboratory of Genomic Diversity at the National Cancer Institute, where she obtained a PhD in Genetics through The George Washington University in 2007. In 2000 she grad­u­ated from the vet­eri­nary school at Liège University in Belgium.

At Kenya Wildlife Service …

Dr. Kariuki will be our con­nec­tion in the vet­eri­nary depart­ment. It is our aim to work with SCBI and CCF to cal­i­brate and set up both the fecal and DNA analy­sis in Kenya to build capac­ity in KWS and Kenya and to avoid the need for export­ing sam­ples out of Kenya (reg­u­la­tions are extremely rigid!).