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 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.
SALAMA FIELD OFFICERS
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
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
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.
SAMBURU FIELD OFFICERS
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.
STUDENTS AND VOLUNTEERS
Erica Hermsen, M.Sc., ACK Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator
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 Russell, ACK 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 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.
ADVISORS AND CONSULTANTS
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!).