Introducing the Ewaso Lions team:
Shivani Bhalla – Founder & Executive Director
Shivani is a fourth generation Kenyan who believes the key to lion conservation is working in partnership with local communities. Her PhD at the University of Oxford examines the population size, structure and movements of lions in Samburu. She founded Ewaso Lions in 2007 to promote coexistence between carnivores and people. Shivani’s commitment to Kenya’s lions has earned her a 2014 Whitley Award, the 2013 Rabinowitz-Kaplan Prize for the Next Generation in Wild Cat Conservation, the “Africa’s Young Women Conservation Biologist of 2009” award by the Society of Conservation Biology, the Virginia McKenna Award for Compassionate Conservation from the Born Free Foundation, and she has been named an Emerging Explorer by National Geographic. Shivani received her MSc. from Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland, and has a BSc. in Environmental Science from Lancaster University. Previously, she has worked for the Kenya Wildlife Service and Save The Elephants, where she promoted environmental education programs among schools and students in Samburu.
Paul Thomson – Managing Director
Paul has more than 10 years of professional experience in African wildlife conservation. He earned his Master’s degree at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies where his research focused on minimising human-predator conflict. Paul joined Shivani in 2009 to run Ewaso Lions and provide organisational oversight and management of Ewaso Lions’ programmes at every level. Previously, Paul worked with the African Wildlife Foundation. In 2007, he was selected for the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders programme by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Defenders of Wildlife. He co-founded Save Pangolins and is a vice chair of the IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group which addresses the illegal trade in this endangered Asian mammal.
Jeneria Lekilele – Senior Field Officer
When it comes to getting work done in the field, Jeneria is the man for the job. Whether holding community meetings on human-carnivore conflict, aiding in a lion collaring operation, or running the Warrior Watch programme, Jeneria combines competence and local knowledge to ensure our field work gets done. Jeneria has experience in the tourism industry and hails from Sasaab village in Westgate. If he wasn’t working with lions he says he would do elephants “because they’re big.” Sorry, lions.
Ngila Ltenesi – Community Officer
Ngila continually holds dialog with community members across our study area to spread a conservation message, respond to instances of human-wildlife conflict, and collect census information on human population and settlements. As the liaison between Ewaso Lions and local communities, he listens to what people have to say, and this invaluable feedback ensures that our community programmes are most effective.
Ewaso Lion Scouts
Four Lion Scouts help monitor the lions and other wildlife within Westgate Community Conservancy and keep local communities informed on predator locations so as to avoid conflict. Moses Letitiya hails from Sasaab village; Francis Lendorop lives in the Remot area; Jeremiah Letoole comes from West Gate village; and Leshula Lenakae is from Nasunyai.
Lion Scouts patrol their respective areas on a daily basis on fixed transects, collecting data on lion sightings and tracks, wild prey, and incidents of conflict with livestock. Scouts also interact with the local people, inform them of predator locations, and increase awareness of the importance of lions and their conservation in this key region. Their main role is to support the research aspects of our work by collecting specific data needed to answer research questions and monitor long term population trends.
Yesalai Lemachokoti – Conflict Officer
Yesalai is a young Samburu warrior who comes from the Sasaab area in Westgate Conservancy. Yesalai works with communities to record all incidences of human-wildlife conflict and help herders prevent livestock loss to carnivores. Yesalai also participates in Warrior Watch.
Nilanga has over 10 years of experience in wildlife conservation, including programme development and management, communications, partnership building, fundraising, and implementing international conservation campaigns. Nilanga is currently the Program Officer for Asian Species Conservation at WWF-US. She was selected as a member of the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders program, during which she met Shivani and Paul. Nilanga is based in Washington, DC where she volunteers for Ewaso Lions.
Laikos Letupukwa – Camp Cook
Letupukwa is the Ewaso Lions Camp cook and helps maintain camp. He comes from the Wamba area near Westgate and was formally trained at a hotel on the Kenyan coast. He keeps our team well fed and fueled for the field.