Our Team

Prof. Sarah Durant

Project Leader – Cheetah
Sarah Durant is a Professor at the Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London and leads the African Range-wide Cheetah Conservation Initiative. She is a conservation scientist and practitioner, with more than 30 years' experience in scientific research and conservation of cheetahs and other large carnivores. Since 1991 she has led a long-term study of individually recognised cheetahs, the Serengeti Cheetah Project, which is the longest ongoing study of wild cheetahs. Over the last decade her work has increasingly taken a multidisciplinary approach, in recognition of the critical importance of the need to integrate social and ecological dimensions in the development of conservation solutions.


DR. Nick Mitchell, PhD

Regional Coordinator, Eastern Africa
Nick has been working on research and conservation in Eastern Africa for two decades and has been the Eastern African regional coordinator for the program since 2012. His interests and experience lie in human-carnivore conflict, for which he has had a focus on Tanzania and Kenya in the Serengeti-Tsavo cheetah landscape, and in the illegal wildlife trade for which he has been working with countries in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East, especially within the CITES forum. These two aspects continue as central themes to Nick’s work. His previous work in the region was on participatory land use planning and land use change, and his PhD used GIS to investigate the long-term land use change and disturbance in Kenya and Uganda.


Dr. Audrey Ipavec

Regional Coordinator (North, West and Central Africa)
Dr Audrey Ipavec is a wildlife ecologist who has been working in Southern and Western African savanna ecosystems since 1999, obtaining her PhD in Research and Conservation studying elephant population distribution in the W Regional Park, West Africa. She has also been lecturing on ecology and human wildlife conflict. Since 2013, Audrey joined the CCI team to coordinate the program in the Northern, Western and Central Africa. In this role based in Benin, she assists cheetah and African wild dog range states in the development and implementation of their National Conservation Action Plans and also works closely with ZSL’s Africa Program to develop their project in the WAP landscape which was an important step to safeguarding one of the five cheetah populations in the region, securing multiple funds to achieve concrete conservation activities.


Dr. Rosemary Groom

Southern African Coordinator
Rosemary is a conservation biologist who has been working in East and southern Africa since 2001. In 2008, she moved to Zimbabwe to work on large carnivore conservation, focusing on the African wild dog. Her areas of interest and expertise include working at local, regional and international levels with a variety of stakeholders on carnivore conservation issues and designing and implementing large-scale field conservation projects which include a strong education and community engagement component. She has been the Southern African Coordinator for the CCI (formerly RWCP) since 2013.


David Elizalde Castells

David is a conservationist with an MSc in geomatics. He has been living in Angola since 2012, where he lectured at the university and worked as data manager for a climate change science organization. He has been working with CCI since 2017, mainly assessing the remaining wildlife and recovery potential for several conservation areas in the country. He has a strong interest in GIS, data analysis and camera trapping.


Sara Fernandes Elizalde

Sara Elizalde is an Angolan wildlife conservationist and holds a MSc in Conservation Biology from the University of Cape Town. She has been working with CCI since 2017 conducting field expeditions and reporting on mammal surveys in various protected areas for which there was a gap in knowledge of almost 50 years. She has also developed the management plan for a national park, trained students and government technicians on wildlife monitoring technics and provided support to government in matters related to large carnivores’ conservation.


Alfonse Odipo

CCI Program Support Officer
Mr. Alfonse Odipo is a natural resource conservationist who has been working in East Africa ecosystems since 2015. His areas of interest and expertise include local and international work on wildlife research and conservation, community engagement, policy, and advocacy as well as climate change governance. Resident in Nairobi, Kenya, he has been working on human-wildlife conflict and rangeland mapping using remote sensing and GIS. He joined the CCI as Program Support Officer in 2021.

Dennis Minja, MSc

Dennis Minja was working in Tanzania as the Project Manager of the Serengeti Cheetah Project from 2014-2021, but has now stepped out to pursue his PhD at the Institute of Zoology (ZSL) and University of Glasgow (Scotland). His PhD research aims to understand the influence of habitat and anthropogenic pressures on cheetah hunting success and habitat use in the Serengeti ecosystem. This study is exploring the impacts of these human pressures (both from tourism and grazing) on cheetah hunting behaviour and ranging patterns. It builds on the substantial amount of work already conducted and gather additional targeted data in order to establish the impacts of human activities on cheetah. This information will be used to provide insights and advice on how to manage grazing and tourist pressure in ways that best support cheetah survival and wellbeing.


Zawadi Mbwambo

Zawadi is the driver-mechanic and field assistant for the Serengeti Cheetah Project and has worked with the project for many years. As the project has only ever used Land Rover Defenders, Zawadi can only be considered one of the most experienced and best Land Rover mechanics in the region. He was also employed as a mechanic at Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI), a government parastatal.

Kelvin Munisi, MSc

Kelvin Munisi is the Project Manager for the Serengeti Cheetah Project in Tanzania. He is in charge of overseeing the day-to-day operations of the SCP, which is based in Seronera, in the heart of the Serengeti National Park. He has been working in the Serengeti ecosystem since 2017. He earned a Master's degree in Conservation Management of African Ecosystems from the University of Glasgow before joining the SCP in November 2021. His MSc thesis focused on determining what causes the changes in tree populations in the Serengeti ecosystem.

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