Julian is the Co-Director and Co-Founder of GCF and coordinates all giraffe conservation efforts as the technical expert. He has over 20 years experience in species and habitat ecology, conservation and land management throughout the African continent as well as in Australia. His experience in the field of giraffe conservation is something few others can boast, from individual field projects, supervision of students, population and country-wide assessments, to expert advisor on national and regional conservation strategies and action plans. Julian has conducted numerous conservation expeditions across all regions of the Africa continent, and worked with all giraffe species and subspecies. He co-founded the IUCN SSC Giraffe & Okapi Specialist Group and recently retired as Co-Chair after providing inspirational leadership to the group for 12 years. Julian holds a PhD in Biological Science from the University of Sydney, Australia based on his initial work in Namibia – the ecology of the desert-dwelling giraffe in Namibia’s northwest. His diverse skill base provides a solid science and conservation foundation from which GCF can grow.
As Co-Director and Co-Founder Steph handles GCF’s day-to-day business, including liaison with conservation partners throughout the world and fundraising. With an MSc in Environmental Engineering, she is a skilled and experienced environmental manager who has successfully worked in diverse working cultures and multi-disciplinary teams within the private, Government and NGO sector on three continents – Africa, Australia and Europe. Steph’s expertise is in project management and ranges from community based natural resource management to technical sustainability solutions. She continues to be hands-on involved in a wide range of giraffe projects across Africa and particularly enjoys spending time in the field. Steph is a member of the IUCN SSC Giraffe & Okapi Specialist Group.
Ahmed Akaltou & Torodo Koine
Ahmed and Torodo are employed as Eco Guards in the Gadabedji Biosphere Reserve, located in the Sahelian Region in Niger. As livestock farmers from the area, they joined the GCF team in 2018 when eight giraffe were translocated to the reserve. In charge of their post-translocation monitoring, Ahmed and Torodo are always on the lookout for the giraffe and work closely with the Niger Goverment Protected Area Management Unit to ensure the protection of wildlife and its habitat. As members of the Tuareg and Fulani tribes respectively, the two main ethnic groups of the area, Ahmed and Torodo are also in charge of community outreach highlighting the importance of giraffe and more broadly of conserving wildlife to local community members.
Naemi is the Senior Environmental Educator for the Khomas Environmental Education Programme (KEEP). She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Resources Management (Nature Conservation) from the Namibian University of Science and Technology. Before joining GCF as an intern in 2016, she did an internship with the Namib Desert Environmental Education Trust (NaDEET) where she developed a keen interest in environmental education. Naemi loves nature and all living things, but her real passion is for plants.
Michael Butler Brown
Michael is a conservation ecologist and a joint fellow with GCF and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. Michael brings a passion for conservation and a wealth of experience in both field research and applied quantitative ecology; seeking to integrate nuanced ecological perspectives into meaningful conservation strategy. Prior to working with GCF, Michael earned a master’s degree in conservation biology from Columbia University, studying the movement ecology of the endangered Grevy’s Zebra. He then spent years of fieldwork as a project manager for Princeton University’s Laikipia Zebra Project in Kenya, honing bushcraft and field skills in pursuit of ecological understandings. For his subsequent PhD research with Dartmouth College and supported by GCF, Michael spent five years studying multi-scale effects of changing resource distribution on giraffe ecology in Uganda. Combining long-term non-invasive photographic surveys, GPS telemetry, behavioural observations and monitoring of vegetation dynamics, Michael worked to design a nation-wide conservation science programme for giraffe in Uganda. As a conservation science fellow, Michael will be working to advance GCF’s missions of informing conservation initiatives with the most rigorous science available.
Petrus ‘Audi’ Ekandjo
Audi joined GCF in mid 2018 and works as Environmental Educator in the Khomas Environmental Education Programme (KEEP). He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Resources Management from the Namibia University of Science and Technology. Audi loves nature and keen to share this passion with others, hence his interest in environmental education. Audi grew up in the northern part of Namibia and is keen to further his knowledge about the Namibian environment and in particular large animals. His hobbies include travelling and he enjoys camping on weekends.
Sara recently joined the GCF team as the Uganda Conservation Coordinator. Sara is a wildlife conservation veterinarian, having graduated from the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 2016. Sara has always had a passion for African wildlife and has taken every opportunity to travel around the continent and gain knowledge and experience in wildlife medicine. In 2016, she participated in the Chemical and Physical Restraint of African Wildlife Course in Malilangwe, Zimbabwe, graduating at the top of her class. In Uganda, Sara coordinates GCF’s giraffe conservation activities with a focus on Murchison Falls National Park where she monitors for and treats giraffe (and other wildlife) with snare injuries together with an incredible and dedicated team of rangers and wildlife veterinarians from the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Additionally, she works alongside local stakeholders to investigate avenues to reduce poaching incidents in the park. Sara is an associate researcher for Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens, Florida, who generously sponsor her position.
Claire joined GCF in September 2019 as an Admin Assistant to provide some administrative support to the entire GCF team. Claire is working hard to provide the entire team with a little relief from the mundane tasks and allow them to focus on saving giraffe in the wild. An Aussie by birth, Claire arrived in Windhoek in 2007 and has called Namibia home ever since. During the past 12 years, Claire has worked in the tourism industry with a keen focus on sustainable tourism practices. Claire is now looking forward to developing a greater understanding of nature conservation as the two often go hand in hand. In her sparetime, Claire enjoys spending time outdoors with her dogs, either on foot or bicycle, exploring the Namibian bush.
Jackson grew up in northern Namibia. He joined GCF in March 2021, after completing his MSc in Natural Resources Management at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST). For his MSc thesis he conducted a feasibility study for reintroducing Angolan giraffe back into Angola in Iona National Park. Jackson is a passionate natural resource manager and conservationist with a special interest in the spatial ecology of wildlife in Namibia including giraffe. He is a fellow of the NUST Biodiversity Research Centre. His dream is to see wildlife roam freely in healthy environments throughout Africa.
Martha works as Environmental Educator in the Khomas Environmental Education Programme (KEEP). She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Resources Management from the Namibia University of Science and Technology. Martha was born and raised in northern Namibia. She is passionate about the environment and conservation and has a special interest in understanding animal behaviour in particular in relation to human-wildlife conflict. In her spare time, Martha enjoys watching nature documentaries and currently pursues a BSc in English.
Based in Zimbabwe, Livi supports GCF’s activities across the country. He started his career as a tracker and driver for safari companies in Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Most recently he worked with a film company, travelling the continent to document human-wildlife conflict. Livi is passionate about conservation and wildlife. He wants to make a contribution so his children will still be able to experience vast numbers of wildlife when they grow up. Livi’s position is supported by the Ivan Carter Conservation Wildlife Alliance.
Rig is the Conservation Programme Officer for the Southern African operations at GCF. He studied marine science at the Universities of Newcastle (Australia) and Cape Town (South Africa). For his MSc, he focused on shark behaviour at the South African east coast. After a short stint working in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, Rig’s focus changed towards terrestrial ecology and he hasn’t looked back since. With extensive experience in monitoring, research, capture, release, and husbandry with most of the Big Five, he is now keen to concentrate on giraffe. His position will be an exciting mix between desktop work and hands-on field conservation. Rig will have the opportunity to explore the Southern African region further and work with numerous GCF partners to further giraffe conservation.
Janet Kavutha Simon
Janet is a young and passionate nature enthusiast working to build a career in community-based conservation. Prior to joining GCF, Janet volunteered to support various wildlife conservation projects in Kenya.. Specifically, she has worked with dynamic communities and youth in Nairobi to push for sustainable wildlife conservation in Nairobi National Park and its southern wildlife dispersal areas. Janet holds a BSc degree in Integrated Forestry Resource Management from Egerton University and has expertise in GIS and mapping. As GCF East Africa Programme Officer, Janet seeks to advance her conservation career and contribute to restoring giraffe habitat through community-based conservation model projects.
Souley Kouato Larwanou, Cloé Pourchier & Razack Moussa Zabeirou
Souley, Cloé and Razack are GCF’s Niger team. As accountant Souley is responsible for finances, while Razack and Cloé work as programme officers. All three positions are shared with our partners Sahara Conservation Fund. Based in Niamey the capital city of Niger, they are located about 60 km from the last viable population of West African giraffe. Working closely with the Nigerien government and local authorities, they are supporting most of the giraffe activities in the country; from the annual census to awareness raising among local communities. Apart from giraffe, they are also dedicated to saving the existing Sahelo-Saharian wildlife and key habitats as well as to reintroducing and restoring lost species through a partnership with the Sahara Conservation Fund. The team is passionate about Niger and its wildlife, and are either born and bred in Niger or spent the majority of their life in the country. Their differences in cultural, education and skill make them a very effective and resourceful team, and a valuable asset to GCF.
Joshua is a wildlife veterinarian, who joined the GCF team in Uganda in June 2021. As part of the GCF/Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) mobile vet team he rescues snared animals in Murchison Falls National Park and removes wire snares from the environment. Joshua holds a bachelor’s degree in Veterinary Medicine (BVM) from Makerere University in Uganda and is passionate about wildlife conservation. Always keen to learn more and further his knowledge, he gained some hands-on giraffe veterinary experience when participating in Operation Twiga IV, the successful translocation of 15 Nubian giraffe from Murchison Falls NP to Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve in 2019.
Kuda joined GCF in June 2019 as a finance intern in our Windhoek office. He completed his Honours Degree in Finance Management at the International University of Management in 2021. Originally from Zimbabwe, Kuda moved to Namibia when he was 13 years old. During his free time he enjoys playing soccer and tennis as well as gaming.
Jordan Michelmore & Lachlan McFeeters
Jordan and Lachlan joined the GCF team in early 2021 to co-ordinate GCF’s long-term conservation monitoring programme in north-western Namibia. Data from this longest running giraffe conservation monitoring programme in Africa provides important information to further our understanding of how giraffe interact, adapt to arid environments, utilise resources, share the landscape with local communities and communal conservancies and ultimately inform our giraffe conservation approach throughout Africa. As field researchers, they cover a survey area of roughly 30,000 sqkm in some of the most unique wilderness areas the country has to offer; so much serenity. Both Lachlan and Jordan grew up in Australia, have a background in biology, and over 20 years combined experience as zookeepers. They have both been involved in various conservation projects throughout their careers and enjoy getting out in nature and discovering more about wildlife and wild places.
As GCF’s East Africa Coordinator, Arthur heads up the Nairobi office. He brings together research efforts and partnerships to secure the future of the three species that occur in the region: Masai, Nubian and Reticulated giraffe. Originally from Rwanda, he spent his formative years living and learning in Kenya, one of the most biologically diverse countries in Africa, where he nurtured an interest in wildlife ecology and conservation. Through the support and collaboration with GCF and other partners, Arthur obtained his Masters and PhD degrees from Michigan State University in the USA, where his research mainly focused on the ecological and anthropogenic factors affecting giraffe survival in East Africa. Through a broad and diverse network of collaborators and partners, Arthur leads GCF’s efforts to support and implement various giraffe conservation initiatives throughout East Africa.
Maria Pimenta Shaetonhodi
Maria is the Finance & Operations Manager of GCF based in Windhoek, Namibia. Born in Luanda, Angola, Maria has lived in Namibia since 2005. Maria has extensive finance experience in the Namibian NGO sector including managing local and international donors funding from USAID, EU, NORAD, etc. She is enrolled with the Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town in South Africa for a MSc in Development Finance. She is passionate about numbers and enjoys contributing to improved livelihoods of local communities and wildlife conservation across Africa.
Board of Directors
Till grew up along the Alaska Highway in Northern British Columbia (Canada) where his passion for the outdoors and wildlife was sparked at a young age. When he visited Steph and Julian in Namibia in 2010, he became interested in giraffe and has followed and supported the work of GCF ever since. Till’s educational background includes a BA in Philosophy from the University of Victoria in Canada, an MSc in Engineering from Linköping University in Sweden, and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, USA. He currently lives in the Houston area with his wife and son where he is a Vice President and General Manager with Crane Co. Till has worked globally for several multi-national companies including Eaton and Alstom, and his career includes roles in general management, supply chain management, operations, new product development and information systems. Till’s skills will help GCF to grow as an organisation in his role as the Chair of the Board. Outside of work Till enjoys good food, running, skiing, cycling and photography.
Chris is an active multi disciplinary designer and creative from the Greater New York City area. Chris studied and graduated from The Pratt Art Institute in Brooklyn New York and has worked in advertising since. In 2018 Chris joint GCF for a one-month volunteer placement through The International Exchange when he helped GCF develop its brand voice. He was inspired by Julian and Steph’s passion for giraffe and has supported GCF by designing collateral ever since.
Lars was born Skellefteå in northern Sweden, but with a father who worked for the World Bank and a mother who liked adventure, he spent most of his childhood in Maryland (USA) and his teens in Kenya. Lars has an engineering degree from The Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and has spent his professional career starting and building companies mainly in the online gaming space. With a keen interest in wildlife and Africa Lars has been involved in conservation for a while. When meeting Julian and Steph in 2017, he was fascinated and impressed by their work and has provided support to GCF since then.
Penelope ‘Melle’ Orford
Melle graduated cum laude from Natal University’s Centre for Environment and Development, specialising in Biodiversity Conservation. When working as manager of the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Poison Working Group to curb wildlife losses from poisoning, her previous six years’ experience in cattle farming in the pro Kalahari of Namibia gave Melle credibility working with farmers across Southern Africa. In 1998, Melle moved back to Namibia where she met Julian and Steph as they were all working at the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia. Melle also taught ecology at the Namibian University of Science and Technology, did EIAs and EMPs throughout Namibia, and has been actively involved with urban conservation as chairperson of Greenspace for the past 15 years. She has a strong interest in wildlife conservation, is a keen birder and has a special interest in indigenous gardens and in wine. Her conservation background combined with a sound sense for business in Africa make Melle a valuable asset to the GCF Board.
As Director of Conservation at Naples Zoo, Tim focuses on saving plants and animals in the wild through over 25 long-term conservation projects with both governmental and non-governmental partners including GCF’s substantial collaborative efforts in Uganda. He serves on the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ CITES Team and previously served on a variety of AZA committees including the Wildlife Conservation Committee. He is Chair of the Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group and Vice-President of the Florida Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Tim heads up Naples Zoo’s travel programme and regularly hosts safaris to Africa. He holds two degrees from The Ohio State University.
Lindy van den Bosch
South African by birth, Lindy holds a Commerce Degree and is a chartered accountant who has worked in finance across Southern Africa. With a love for the African bush, Lindy is also an experienced nature guide with a special interest in birding. From her adopted home in Windhoek, the busy mother of two boys now runs a successful lodge management company in Namibia together with her husband. Lindy has travelled extensively in Southern Africa, Europe and the USA and is an accomplished endurance athlete: swimming, running, cycling – you name it! With her head firmly on her shoulders and sound financial management competence, she brings important finance skills and scrutiny to the GCF Board.