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.
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 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.
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!).
Elena Chelysheva is Russian zoologist with broad knowledge of captive and wild
cheetah ecology and behavior and over 25 years of experience. Former supervisor of Carnivore Department of Moscow Zoo Conservation Center (Russia) she worked with in different institutions including: Moscow zoo (Russia), private zoo (UAE), Gilman Foundation White Oak Conservation Centre (USA). In 1999 – 2000 she was full-time volunteer at Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia. In 2001 – 2002, she worked with the KWS Masai Mara Cheetah Project in Masai-Mara National Reserve (Kenya) to develop an original method of cheetah identification.
In 2008 Elena obtained her PhD from Russian State Agrarian Correspondence University after completing thesis on cheetah conservation and social behavior of captive cheetahs and implications of social structure of wild cheetahs. In 2012, she will head the Kenya “Meru-Mara Cheetah Project” aims to evaluate Cheetah population status in regions with different types of anthropogenic influence (Masai Mara National Reserve versus Meru Conservation Area). Elena will work with other carnivore programmes in the two regions to identify cheetahs and conduct survey of social structure.
Dale Anderson is the director of Cat Haven and Project Survival. For more that 25 years Dale has maintained a facility in the US where exotic cats are used as ambassadors to their wild counterparts. Cat Haven is open to the public and brings cats to schools and public functions to raise awareness and funds for carnivore conservation. Cat Haven has successfully bred and nurtured a variety of species. In 2010, Dale received authorization to establish a cheetah sanctuary on the Soysambu Conservancy in Nakuru where cheetahs from KWS can be housed and used as ambassadors for tourists and Kenyans to better understand the plight of cheetahs in Kenya and the relationship of Kenya’s cheetahs to the future survival of cheetahs it Eastern Africa.
Dr. Laurie Marker is Founder and Executive Director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) with its headquarters in Namibia, Africa. Having worked with cheetahs since 1974, Laurie set up the not-for-profit Fund in 1990 and moved to Namibia to develop a permanent Conservation Research Centre for the wild cheetah. She completed her PhD in 2001 through Oxford University and has received a host of awards for her commitment and expertise in cheetah conservation efforts through the research and community activities of CCF.
Cindy Wheeler has offered her services as a web designer to support our efforts at Action for Cheetahs in Kenya. After spending many years as a graphic designer, she has, most recently, added web design to her list of services after attending The Art Institute of CA’s Web Design & Interactive Media program. Her work with ACK is supported through Project Survival. In 2006 – 2007 she worked as a volunteer in South Africa with the cheetah ambassador training program at Cheetah Outreach.
Dr. Mohsin 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.
Phone: +254 (0)7339976910 or +254 (0)721631664