Leadership & Governance

Creative Commons: Bernard Dupont

Recovering lions requires dedicated, collaborative, innovative, thoughtful, and experienced talent from around the world.  

The individuals below are valued colleagues working above and beyond their already demanding conservation roles to advance the goals of the Lion Recovery Fund. Their contributions give all of us hope that lions will recover and rebound.

Leadership

  • Jean-Gaël "JG" Collomb

    Executive Director Wildlife Conservation Network Leadership Team Close
  • Peter Lindsey

    Director, Lion Recovery Fund Wildlife Conservation Network LEADERSHIP TEAM, GRANTING

    Peter joined WCN in 2017 as the Conservation Initiatives Director and brings a lifelong passion for African wildlife conservation to the organization. He has been working on and with African wildlife since 1993, when he started out as an apprentice in Save Valley Conservancy in Zimbabwe. Peter went on to study at Oxford and ultimately graduated with a PhD from the Mammal Research Institute at the University of Pretoria. 

    Developing an early expertise on African wild dogs, Peter went on to work on a broad array of conservation issues ranging from predator conservation, to the threats facing them and other wildlife, to wildlife ranching and community conservation, and most recently to Africa’s vast protected area network. Peter has worked in Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe and brings a unique ‘big picture’ perspective to our African conservation efforts. Prior to joining WCN, Peter worked for Panthera’s Lion Program as the policy coordinator and completed some major overviews of the issues facing the conservation of lions in Africa’s protected area network. 

    Close
  • Rebecca Patton

    Director/Vice President, Board Member Wildlife Conservation Network Leadership Team

    After 20 years in the private sector in Silicon Valley, Rebecca joined The Nature Conservancy in 2001 to pursue her life-long interest in conservation. As a Regional Director, she oversaw conservation programs in many parts of the world, from China to Peru to the western United States, and developed a deep appreciation for the importance of community-based conservation. Then as the Chief Conservation Strategies Officer she led TNC's global policy and science initiatives. She joined WCN in 2010 to contribute her experience to WCN's innovative and effective model for wildlife conservation. She is on the boards of several other conservation organizations, and in her free time, she also enjoys hiking adventures.

    Close
  • Paul Thomson

    Director of Conservation Programs Wildlife Conservation Network LEADERSHIP TEAM, GRANTING

    Paul specializes in highly threatened and endangered species, incubating conservation startups, and building leadership capacity in the environmental field. Paul oversees WCN’s Crisis and Recovery Funds Strategy, including the Lion Recovery Fund.  Prior to WCN, Paul was a director of Ewaso Lions and helped build and run the project. In addition to his work with WCN, he runs Save Pangolins, a project he co-founded to address the illegal trade of the little-known pangolin, the world’s most illegally trafficked mammal.Paul is an alum of the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders program and now serves on the board. Paul holds a BSc from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources & Environment and received his Master’s from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. He was raised in the Bay Area.

    Close

Governance

  • Colleen Begg

    Founder Niassa Lion Project Granting

    Dr. Colleen Begg was raised in South Africa. She earned her Master’s Degree (with distinction) assessing the translocation of problem cheetah into Matusadona National Park in Zimbabwe and her PhD in Zoology on the first in-depth study of the honey badger. Colleen is a well published scientist and is also a professional photographer with articles and images published worldwide in National Geographic Magazine and Africa Geographic among others.

    In 1996, Colleen joined forces with Keith Begg to start the first in depth study of the honey badger in the Kalagadi Transfrontier Park in South Africa. In 2003, Colleen and Keith, left South Africa for Mozambique and founded the independent Niassa Lion Project in the little known Niassa Reserve in Northern Mozambique where they work in collaboration with local communities and Mozambican management authority (co-management between Wildlife Conservation Society and Ministry of Tourism). 

    The goals of this project are to secure lions, leopards, wild dogs and spotted hyaenas in Niassa Reserve by finding practical, community based sustainable solutions to human induced threats like unsustainable sport hunting, retaliatory killing and bushmeat snaring. In 2007, Colleen received a Rufford Innovation Award for Niassa Lion Project's lion conservation work in Niassa Reserve.

    Close
  • John Baker

    Managing Director-Programs WildAid Campaigns

    John is the driving force behind WildAid’s operations including program strategy, fundraising efforts, international program management, and organizational operations. He brings valuable expertise from 15 years of managing conservation programs in Southeast Asia and 12 years at PRBO Conservation Science. John’s entrepreneurial spirit and hands-on attitude have helped launch innovative rural development projects in Thailand, manage a conservation program for the largest protected area in Laos, and establish an award-winning family planning program for the Vietnam Women's Union. He works closely with like-minded individuals including pre-eminent social entrepreneur Mechai Viravaidya and lends his expertise to the creative process including the publication of a guidebook to Thai national parks and a coffee table book on Thai flora and fauna. During one watershed moment in recent Thai political history, John seized the opportunity to write speeches for Thailand's Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun. When not in the water or in the forest, he enjoys gardening and cooking.

    Close
  • Les Carlisle

    Group Conservation Manager &Beyond LIONSCAPE COALITION

    Les Carlisle has been an intrinsic part of the &Beyond team for more than 25 years, providing invaluable conservation management across the group. Les’s long history with &Beyond began in February 1991 with the creation of &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve. Not only was he involved in the building of the reserve but he played an instrumental role in reintroducing predators and other species onto the reserve, managing the game translocations required to transform it into the world-renowned reserve that it is today. As Group Conservation Manager, Les represents &Beyond on the boards of two conservation areas and advises the company on the proper management of such areas. In addition, he has taken on the role of Project Manager for Rhinos Without Borders. Les is a committed proponent of the view that one of the essential components of conservation is getting benefits flowing to local people and communities so that they come to understand the relevance of conservation areas. Les is heavily involved in &Beyond’s sustainability initiatives, which are aimed at minimizing the environmental impact of the company’s lodges. 

    Close
  • Stephanie Carnow

    Director of Marketing and Communications Wildlife Conservation Network Campaigns

    Stephanie’s two biggest passions are telling great stories and helping animals. In 2003, she was able to bring these passions together by managing communications projects for WildAid, an organization focused on ending illegal wildlife trafficking. Inspired by this experience she went on to get her M.A. in geography, studying human-wildlife interactions in marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation. Most recently, Stephanie was a Communications Officer at The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation where she worked on communications strategy and developed print and digital content on a variety of issues—including climate change, education, women’s empowerment and the arts. 

    Close
  • Tristan Cowley

    Co-founder Ultimate Safaris Namibia Lionscape Coalition

    A published scientist, conservationist and specialist guide, Tristan is the co-founder of Ultimate Safaris Namibia. His career began guiding river safaris in South Africa before managing a renowned safari camp in Namibia, whilst studying Natural Resource Management and qualifying as both a safari and hunting (never practiced as such) guide in Namibia. Tristan spent a number of years researching sandgrouse species as well as doing the first ever research on the Black mongoose, Namibia’s only endemic carnivore, before becoming a specialist guide leading safaris throughout southern and East Africa after founding Tou Safaris in 2003. In 2008 he co-founded Ultimate Safaris, which has grown into Namibia’s premier Conservation Travel company, employing more than 100 quality full time staff.

    A passionate Namibian and son of veteran Namibian anti-apartheid political journalist, Tristan’s enthusiasm for Namibia, its people and the protection of the environment is at the forefront of everything he does. He is the founder of the Conservation Travel Foundation, which now raises in excess of ZAR 2 million for conservation and rural development projects annually, and also co-founded the NATH Education Trust, which since its inception 8 years ago, has raised ZAR 5.5 million for the training of Namibian guides as well as the establishment of a blended learning platform (e-learning) for Namibian guides.

    Tristan has served on the boards of the Federation of Namibian Tourism Associations, Namibian Academy for Tourism and Hospitality, Advisory Board to the Namibian University of Science and Technology Natural Resource Management department and in 2007, at age 25, served as the youngest chairperson of the Tour and Safari Association of Namibia, a position he held for two years.

    Close
  • Luke Hunter

    Executive Director Wildlife Conservation Society’s Big Cats Program Granting

    Luke Hunter is the Executive Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Big Cats Program, where he helps to coordinate the strategies and activities of WCS’s conservation efforts on big cats in more than 25 countries. His doctoral and post-doctoral work assessed the effectiveness of translocating wild lions and cheetahs, and developed reintroduction protocols which have contributed to the recovery of lions in over 50 newly-restored populations. He is a founding member of Panthera and its former President & Chief Conservation Officer, leading the organization's field conservation programs, and supervising its scientific research program from 2008-2018. His chief interests are devising and scaling up solutions to retaliatory killing of large carnivores by rural communities, improving the status and management capacity of protected areas, and reducing impacts on cat populations of legal hunting. He has authored/co-authored more than 180 articles in scientific journals and popular media including for BioScience, National Geographic, New Scientist and Slate. He has written eight books including Cats of Africa: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation (2006), Wild Cats of the World (2015) and Carnivores of the World (2018); and he is writing the forthcoming Princeton Encyclopedia of the Cat Family. Hunter lives just outside New York City on the urban outskirts of bobcat range in the state.

    Close
  • Peter Lindsey

    Director, Lion Recovery Fund Wildlife Conservation Network LEADERSHIP TEAM, GRANTING

    Peter joined WCN in 2017 as the Conservation Initiatives Director and brings a lifelong passion for African wildlife conservation to the organization. He has been working on and with African wildlife since 1993, when he started out as an apprentice in Save Valley Conservancy in Zimbabwe. Peter went on to study at Oxford and ultimately graduated with a PhD from the Mammal Research Institute at the University of Pretoria. 

    Developing an early expertise on African wild dogs, Peter went on to work on a broad array of conservation issues ranging from predator conservation, to the threats facing them and other wildlife, to wildlife ranching and community conservation, and most recently to Africa’s vast protected area network. Peter has worked in Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe and brings a unique ‘big picture’ perspective to our African conservation efforts. Prior to joining WCN, Peter worked for Panthera’s Lion Program as the policy coordinator and completed some major overviews of the issues facing the conservation of lions in Africa’s protected area network. 

    Close
  • Neil Midlane

    Group Sustainability Manager Wilderness Safaris Granting, Lionscape Coalition

    Neil is currently the Group Sustainability Manager at Wilderness Safaris. Before Wilderness Safaris, he was with Singita for five years as the General Manager of Conservation for the group. Prior to joining Singita, he spent four years completing a PhD in Zoology through the University of Cape Town. His thesis, titled The conservation status and dynamics of a protected lion population in Kafue National Park, Zambia, was based on three years of field work in one of Africa’s largest protected areas – a key landscape for lion conservation.

    While establishing and running the Kafue Lion Project, Neil produced the first scientific estimates of lion numbers for Kafue, which showed the population is well below its potential carrying capacity. His findings indicated a depressed prey population caused by bushmeat hunting as the major limiting factor to lion numbers in the park. As a result, Neil helped establish a fund to increase anti-poaching efforts in key areas in Kafue. 

    Neil holds a Masters in Environmental Management and an Honours in Accounting from the University of Stellenbosch, and previously worked as a guide at a top South African photographic safari lodge. He is a member of the African Lion Working Group, the Mozambique Carnivore Working Group and the Transfrontier Conservation Specialist Group. He is also a registered Chartered Accountant (SA).

    Close
  • Philip Muruthi

    Vice President for Species Conservation African Wildlife Foundation Granting

    In 1985 Philip Muruthi earned a BSc degree having studied zoology, botany and atmospheric science at University of Nairobi. Today he is Vice President for Species Conservation at African Wildlife Foundation which he joined in Kenya in 1997, having completed PhD studies at Princeton University. He has managed AWF’s growing applied species research and conservation portfolio assisting to design and manage programs in eastern, central, west and southern Africa. Philip has keen interest in in situ protection of endangered species including rhinoceros, elephants, great apes, giraffe and large carnivores. He approaches natural resource management broadly, ensuring that species, communities and systems are part of integrated landscape-level conservation. Philip has participated in policy formulation processes in the environment, land and wildlife sectors and was recently appointed chair of Kenya’s national working group on wildlife corridors and dispersal areas. He is leading AWF’s efforts working with key partners to design and execute AWF’s approach targeting stopping the killing, trafficking and demand to curb the current poaching crisis. Philip manages AWF’s species protection granting program. He is a member of AWF’s organizational management team. 

    Close
  • Claudio Sillero

    Wildcru, Oxford University SENIOR TECHNICAL ADVISOR

    Claudio Sillero is the Founder of the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Program (EWCP). He grew up on a cattle ranch in Argentina, which shaped his desire for a career in wildlife conservation. In 1985 he travelled to Kenya following his dream, and after cutting his teeth studying spotted hyaenas and rhinos he was invited by the New York Zoological Society to the Bale Mountains of southern Ethiopia, to unveil the mystery of the rare Ethiopian wolves. What began as an academic pursuit turned into a lifelong career, with Claudio’s work in Ethiopia spanning four decades. Claudio has been a partner of WCN since its origin, and holds a number of other positions, including Associate Professor of Conservation Biology at the University of Oxford, Chair of the IUCN Canid Specialist Group, and Chief Scientist at Born Free Foundation. He is married to Jorgelina Marino (EWCP Science Director) and has three children.

    Close
  • Paul Thomson

    Director of Conservation Programs Wildlife Conservation Network LEADERSHIP TEAM, GRANTING

    Paul specializes in highly threatened and endangered species, incubating conservation startups, and building leadership capacity in the environmental field. Paul oversees WCN’s Crisis and Recovery Funds Strategy, including the Lion Recovery Fund.  Prior to WCN, Paul was a director of Ewaso Lions and helped build and run the project. In addition to his work with WCN, he runs Save Pangolins, a project he co-founded to address the illegal trade of the little-known pangolin, the world’s most illegally trafficked mammal.Paul is an alum of the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders program and now serves on the board. Paul holds a BSc from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources & Environment and received his Master’s from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. He was raised in the Bay Area.

    Close
  • Lance Williams

    Co-Founder LanMar Fund CAMPAIGNS

    Lance C. Williams has over eighteen years of strategic marketing, communications and philanthropic experience. From 2006-2014, Lance served as the Executive Director of Brand Development at Condé Nast Traveler magazine, responsible for promoting the brand internationally through events, conferences and charity partnerships. Since 2002, Lance has served on the board of directors of the Fred B. Snite Foundation as Vice President. This Chicago-based family foundation provides grants to a variety of societal, medical and educational causes. Lance has championed the foundation’s significant support of several causes, including The Wildlife Conservation Network. In 2012, Lance co-founded The LanMar Fund, a charitable fund that supports awareness, research and action in the field of wildlife conservation, including leadership gifts for Save The Elephants’ Elephant Crisis Fund. Lance lives in New York City and Los Angeles and is an avid traveler. His frequent visits to Africa inspire his continued commitment to preserving endangered species.

    Close

Strategic Advisors

  • Hans Bauer

    Wildcru, Oxford University
  • Matthew Becker

    ZAMBIAN CARNIVORE PROGRAMME
  • Shivani Bhalla

    Ewaso Lions
  • Christine Bretienmoser

    IUCN CAT SPECIALIST GROUP
  • Urs Breitenmoser

    IUCN CAT SPECIALIST GROUP
  • Renee Bumpus

    Houston Zoo
  • Amy Dickman

    Wildcru, Oxford University
  • Stephanie Dolrenry

    LION GUARDIANS
  • Paul Funston

    PANTHERA
  • Chris Gordon

    Zoological Society of London
  • Leela Hazzah

    LION GUARDIANS
  • Philipp Henschel

    PANTHERA
  • Andy Loveridge

    Wildcru, Oxford University
  • David Macdonald

    WILDCRU, OXFORD UNIVERSITY
  • Craig Packer

    UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA
  • Jeffrey "Jefe" Parrish

    Pew Charitable Trusts/Tompkins Conservation
  • Peter Riger

    HOUSTON ZOO
  • Chris Roche

    Wilderness Safaris Lionscape Coalition
  • Etotépé A. Sogbohossou

    Laboratoire d'Ecologie Appliquée, University of Abomey-Calavi
  • Tim Tear

    WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY
  • Pricelia Tumenta

    The University of Dschang
  • Hugo van der Westhuizen

    Frankfurt Zoological Society
  • Kent Wommack

    Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg Foundation