ROSEMARY GROOM, PHD
CONSERVATION BIOLOGIST | CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Rosemary is a wildlife ecologist and conservationist who grew up in Zimbabwe. Rosemary achieved a first class degree in Zoology from the University of Bristol (UK) and completed her PhD in wildlife conservation in 2008. Rosemary has over fifteen years of experience working on conservation-related research in Kenya, Botswana and Zimbabwe, and has been managing the AWCF in south-east Zimbabwe since 2008. Today she serves as the CEO of the organisation, whilst concurrently working as the Southern African Coordinator for the Range Wide Conservation Program for Cheetah and African Wild Dogs. Rosemary’s future is invested in the conservation of African wildlife and, through her work in Zimbabwe, has unequivocally contributed significant and long-term benefits to the conservation of endangered African wild dogs, and other large carnivores.
JESS WATERMEYER, MSC
CONSERVATION BIOLOGIST | PROJECTS DIRECTOR
Jess graduated with her Master of Science in Zoology in 2012 from Rhodes University, South Africa. She has always been passionate about animal welfare and wildlife conservation, with a particular focus on scientific research and promoting human-wildlife co-existence. Her post graduate studies and work experience focussed on large carnivore conservation (apart from a brief stint with African penguins!), particularly that of African wild dogs. Jess has been working with AWCF since 2013 and has over eight years of experience in field conservation and research. She is invested long-term in the conservation of Africa’s wildlife and has aspirations to pursue a PhD in the not too distant future. Jess enjoys nothing more than a long bush walk/run with her dog Kola, and always relishes the opportunity to share a cold beer with friends whilst watching an African sunset.
VICTOR CHIBAYA, MSC
CHIEF EDUCATION OFFICER & COMMUNITY LIAISON
Victor is a Zimbabwean who has always had an incredible passion for wildlife and conservation, but grew up experiencing first-hand conflicts and trouble with wildlife. This prompted Victor to focus his tertiary education studies on human-wildlife conflict mitigation and community education. Victor graduated with his Masters in Developmental Studies from Zimbabwe’s National University of Science and Technology in 2019. Victor has been a part of the team since 2012 and today is responsible for the day to day running and logistics of our school-based education program in Savé Valley Conservancy, which he manages with incredible professionalism. His commitment to the job and enthusiasm for educating students and supporting teachers is unparalleled. Victor is married to his wife, Adel, and they have a beautiful daughter named Daniella.
ASSISTANT COMMUNITY EDUCATION OFFICER
Kudakwashe is an energetic and focused young conservationist from Chiredzi District. Coming from a district popular for its vast wildlife areas and ranches, Kudakwashe developed an incredible passion for wildlife conservation and community development. This prompted him to pursue a career in wildlife conservation focusing on social ecology. He attained his Bachelor of Science Degree in Wildlife and Safari Management from Chinhoyi University of Technology in 2016. He then joined the AWCF team in 2018 and today he works as an assistant community education officer, working with communities in and around the Savé Valley Conservancy.
HEAD SCOUT & WILDLIFE TRACKER
Rueben is an exceptional wildlife tracker from Chiremwaremwa community close to the western border of Savé Valley Conservancy (SVC). Rueben began his employment in 1992 tracking endangered black rhinos in SVC. In 1996, Rueben began working for the Lowveld Wild Dog Project (from which AWCF was formed), and now has over 20 years of experience with the organisation. Rueben is our head scout and an immensely valuable member of the team, with skills as wide ranging as spoor tracking, use of telemetry, community liaisons and conflict mitigation, anti-poaching and assisting with the immobilisations of wild dogs and other carnivores. Rueben has also been the sole tracker for our annual carnivore spoor surveys (in both Gonarezhou National Park and SVC) for the past 10 years. Rueben shows genuine interest in his work and a true appreciation for the natural world. He often returns from days out in the field with stories of lions on carcasses, elephants swimming in the dams and / or interesting birds or reptiles he spotted! This is more than a job to Rueben; he has dedicated his life to this cause. Rueben has four sons and two daughters.
SCOUT & WILDLIFE TRACKER
Akim began his work in the wildlife sector in the Savé Valley Conservancy as a ranch scout in the mid 1990’s. Soon after, in 1999, he was employed as a tracker for the Lowveld Wild Dog Project (from which our work expanded) with our current head scout Rueben. Akim re-joined our team in 2015 and clearly has not forgotten his tracking skills or lost his knowledge of wild dogs! Akim grew up in one of the villages neighbouring the SVC, and his long-term knowledge and experience in wildlife tracking has made him an asset to the team. Akim is incredibly dedicated to his work and has a deep and infectious ‘belly’ laugh. We are so glad to have him back with us. When he’s not working, Akim enjoys resting at his home with his wife, Shamiso, and their five children (four girls and one boy).
SENIOR SCOUT & WILDLIFE TRACKER
Misheck is also a skilled wildlife tracker, hailing from Mafaune Village neighbouring Savé Valley Conservancy. Misheck began his employment with the project in 2001 and has been a dedicated and hard-working employee ever since. In addition to his work on African wild dogs, Misheck has also tracked lions and other wildlife species, assisted with spoor surveys, carried out questionnaire surveys and helped with human-wildlife conflict mitigation. Misheck, although slightly serious at times, cannot hide his excitement when spending a morning at a wild dog den! All of our scouts thoroughly enjoy being able to spend time with wild dogs. Misheck is married to his wife, Janet, and they have three boys and three girls together.
SCOUT & WILDLIFE TRACKER
Cain is from Bikita District, just north-west of Savé Valley Conservancy. He lives with his wife, Annachitsa, and their four beautiful daughters. Cain only has four years’ experience with the project but developed quickly into an exceptionally skilled tracker showing a keen interest in the research and monitoring aspects of our work. He is well liked and respected within the conservancy, and amongst the neighbouring communities, and mitigates potential conflict situations pertaining to African wild dogs well. Cain is an incredibly hard-working and dedicated employee, and will do whatever is asked of him without hesitation or protest, always wearing a big smile whilst doing so! He shows a real interest in his work and an understanding of the importance of the conservation and research agenda of the organisation. Cain only has a good day if he finds wild dogs!
NKOSILATHI NGWENYA BSc (Hons)
Nkosilathi is a hardworking young Zimbabwean who is passionate about contributing positively towards conservation and management of wildlife. The experience he gained and the adventures from his rural home near Hwange National Park has inspired him to pursue a career in the field of wildlife management and conservation biology. He completed his Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Forest Resources and Wildlife Management at the National University of Science and Technology in Zimbabwe after living onsite with the AWCF team for a year (2017/2018). Nkosi is dedicated to furthering his studies, and with our help, is actively seeking post graduate opportunities. In July 2020 Nkosi came back to join our team to assist with management, research and logistics. He is also currently the lead researcher on a project focused on the resident lions in Gonarezhou National Park – a project run by AWCF in partnership with the Gonarezhou Conservation Trust.
DR PETER LINDSEY, PHD
Peter has been working on African wildlife since 1993, when he started out as an apprentice in Savé 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 ‘big picture’ perspective to our work.
STEPHANIE S. ROMAÑACH, PHD
Stephanie Romañach is a Research Ecologist with the US Geological Survey, where she uses a combination of field observations and predictive ecological models to assist with conservation and restoration planning. Before joining USGS, Stephanie ‘s research focused on getting science used in natural resource decision making through projects such as endangered African wild dog conservation and ecology, bushmeat trade and rural livelihoods, the role of trophy hunting in wildlife conservation, and large carnivore population ecology.
Douglas is a Zimbabwean currently completing his degree at the National University of Science and Technology in Zimbabwe. He completed his Bachelor of Science degree in Forest Resources and Wildlife Management, after working with the AWCF team in the third year of his studies during 2018/2019. He lives in Masvingo Province and has a great aspiration to protect and promote the conservation of wildlife. During his time with us, Douglas excelled at managing ad overseeing databases. As such, we continue to engage with him on a contractual basis for his assistance and to help train up subsequent students.
NOBESUTHU NGWENYA, BSC
Nobesuthu is a determined young conservationist from Zimbabwe, who completed her BSc Hon degree in Forest Resources and Wildlife Management with the National University of Science and Technology in 2014. She did her attachment with AWCF in the year 2013 and researched on den site selection by African wild dogs to minimise intra-guild persecution. Nobesuthu joined the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority as an Ecologist in 2016, based in the Zambezi Valley. Her interests have been broadened towards the protection of all Zimbabwe’s wildlife heritage, focusing mostly on Transfrontier Conservation Areas and Biosphere Reserves. Her determination towards carnivore conservation has not faded either, as she continues to be involved in wild dog research in the Zambezi Valley. She hopes to contribute significantly towards wildlife conservation in the country.
Talent is a young Zimbabwean currently completing an undergraduate degree at the National University of Science and Technology in Zimbabwe. She is studying her Bachelor of Science degree in Forest Resources and Wildlife Management, and was AWCF’s attachment student in 2020. We are continuing to engage with Talent as she completes her undergraduate project supervised by AWCF. She was born in Kadoma and raised in Hwange Town by her parents. Growing up in a small town surrounded by a National Park, she became passionate about wildlife conservation. Talent is also part of Birdlife Zimbabwe Matebeleland Youth Club. She enjoys swimming, long distance running with her father, aerobics, fishing, bird watching, reading and going out with her friends.
Moreangels worked with AWCF for 3 months in 2009, to carry out a project for her Masters in Tropical Resource Ecology at the University of Zimbabwe. Her thesis was on the diet choice of African wild dogs and competition with other large carnivores in Savé Valley Conservancy, South East Lowveld, Zimbabwe, and involved collection and analysis of wild dog, lion, hyaena and leopard faecal samples. Moreangels also authored a paper with AWCF’s CEO Rosemary Groom, on methods of aging wild dogs from teeth. In 2012, Moreangels undertook a Postgraduate Diploma in International Wildlife Conservation Practice at the University of Oxford and from 2013 to 2017 completed a PhD in Zoology, also from the University of Oxford. She continues to be passionate about wildlife conservation and is currently a research assistant at the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) at the University of Oxford.
Matt joined the AWCF team in June 2014 to carry out research for his honours project as part of his degree in Conservation Ecology at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. He worked on camera trap data investigating wild dog den site selection in Savé Valley Conservancy, demonstrating that wild dogs are likely to limit their hunting costs during the denning phase by choosing sites in their home range where prey are sufficiently available, but at a finer scale (5-6km) choosing sites in areas of low prey activity, probably as a predator avoidance strategy. After completing his degree, Matt was awarded a Beit Trust Scholarship to Oxford University where he is currently working towards a PhD in Zoology, focussing on African lion behavioural ecology in Bubye Valley Conservancy, southern Zimbabwe.
Sydney is a young Zimbabwean, passionate about wildlife ecology and research. He attained his first degree in Forest Resources and Wildlife Management from the National University of Science and Technology in 2015. As part of this degree, from 2013 to 2014, Sydney was attached to the AWCF as a research assistant, where he worked on assessing community attitudes and perceptions towards large carnivores in and around the Savé Valley Conservancy. Sydney has maintained his interest in ecology and conservation, and is currently undertaking his Masters degree in Ecotourism and Biodiversity Conservation with the same institute.
Rosebud was affiliated to AWFC from 2013 to 2015 as a part of her MSc studies at Stellenbosch University. Her topic was “Identifying African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) corridors outside Gonarezhou National Park and Savé Valley Conservancy using maxent species distribution modelling” where she focused on environmental modelling of species distribution within two national parks in Zimbabwe based on availability of water and anthropogenic influences. Rosebud has maintained her interest in research and is now employed at the University of Fort Hare where she is responsible for lecturing, as well as moulding post-graduate students in their research skills development.
Golden is a Zimbabwean who trained as a teacher at Masvingo Teacher’s College, and has worked for the Zimbabwean Ministry of Education Sport and Culture from 2007 to date. In 2013 he pursed further education through the National University of Science and Technology in Bulawayo. In 2015 Golden joined AWCF during his third year attachment, where he evaluated the impact of AWCF’s conservation education program in primary schools surrounding Savé Valley Conservancy. In 2016, he completed his BSc in Forestry Resources and Wildlife Management at the above mentioned university, achieving an Upper Second Class degree. With his education background and experience, Golden is interested in further addressing major conservation threats to African wildlife, especially wild dogs, through community education.
LAURA TENSEN, PHD
Laura graduated her M.Sc in Ecology at the Free University in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and did her PhD in Molecular Zoology at the University of Johannesburg, co supervised by AWCF’s Dr Rosemary Groom, and using AWCF’s data and samples. She is passionate about conservation and wildlife genetics, particularly involving large carnivores. For her research, she looks at genetic diversity, inbreeding and genetic differentiation in wildlife populations, and connectivity between reserves. Laura has been doing genetic analysis for the AWCF since 2013.
Zimbabwean by Nationality, Lennox is a dedicated young man currently working towards the completion of a Bachelor of Science degree in Forest Resources and Wildlife Management at the National University of Science and Technology in Zimbabwe. He is attached to AWCF for this upcoming year (2021) as a student and assistant, where he will also complete a research project focused on the conservation of African wild dogs. Lennox is very passionate about wildlife conservation and he is determined to further his studies in order to meaningfully fit into the world of wildlife conservationists and practitioners. Among other things, Lennox is a ‘dog fanatic’. He practices training domestic dogs as a hobby – to Lennox, a dog is his best friend!