Arafat Mtui – Honorary Chair
Arafat Mtui has 15 years experience of project management and fieldwork in mammal conservation in southern Tanzania. Hailing from Mang’ula in the Udzungwa Mountains, Arafat holds a degree in Wildlife Management and has managed the Udzungwa Ecological Monitoring Centre for five years. Arafat is a passionate conservationist and advocate for Tanzanian wildlife, a highly respected leader and master of diplomacy, and has a wide network of contacts in the Tanzanian wildlife sector and Government. Arafat serves as Honorary Chair of the STEP Management Committee.
Dr. Trevor Jones – Director
Trevor has 15 years experience of devising and managing innovative research and conservation projects in East Africa, with an emphasis on threatened mammals. He first studied elephants in Tsavo, Kenya in 2001, before moving to southern Tanzania. In 2004, while studying endangered primates in the Udzungwa Mountains, he chanced upon kipunji, the first new monkey species to be described in Africa for 25 years. After completing a thorough census and conservation assessment of the ‘punky monkey’, he embarked on a PhD study of large mammal ecology in the Udzungwa montane forests. In 2008, having previously documented threatened elephant corridors between Udzungwa and Selous, he led the first national assessment of wildlife corridors across Tanzania. From 2009 to 2010, Trevor also worked with TAWIRI and WCS as senior scientist for the current Tanzanian Elephant Management Plan, a role which included assessing the demography, abundance and conservation status of all Tanzania’s major elephant populations. Trevor has published over thirty papers and numerous reports on African wildlife and conservation.
Lameck Mkuburo – Field Manager
Lameck qualified with a BSc in Biology and Chemistry from St John’s University of Tanzania. He gained research experience as a Field Ecologist for the TAWIRI and IGF foundation in Tanzania Large Carnivore Survey, and previously worked as a credit officer at PRIDE Tanzania. He joined STEP as Elephant Researcher in March 2015, and became Field Manager in November 2016. In this role, he collects and manages data for our elephant monitoring program in Ruaha National Park. Though previously a carnivore guy, Lameck is fascinated by elephants, and committed to work towards their conservation.
Frank Lihwa – Conservation Technology Manager
Frank holds a MSc in Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and a BSc in Environmental Science and Management from University of Aberdeen (Scotland) and Ardhi University (Tanzania) respectively.
Prior to joining STEP, Frank worked with Tansheq Ltd as an Environmental and GIS Officer where he participated in various environmental impact assessments, audits and safety for various mining and oil projects. His MSc in GIS concentrated on the uses of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to Monitor changes in River Morphology. At STEP, Frank leads the Aerial Program for Rungwa-Kizigo-Muhesi Game Reserves and MBOMIPA WMA and Ruaha National Park, Training for Rangers and Village Game Scouts, and other geospatial and conservation technologies.
Maria Mbata– Human-Elephant Coexistence Manager
Maria is from Idodi village in Iringa region and holds a Bachelor of Art in Community Development from Tumaini University College in Iringa, Tanzania. She has four years’ experience in project Planning, Development and Management. Before joining STEP she worked with New Forests Company in Iringa as Corporate Social Responsibility Program Officer managing and coordinating CSR projects. At STEP she manages the implementation and coordination of Human-Elephant Coexistence projects with communities living around Udzungwa Mountain National Park, Selous Game Reserve and Rungwa Game Reserve.
Nelson David – Finance and Administration Officer
Nelson joined STEP On August 2016, and is a key facilitator of all our operations. Before joining STEP, he worked with SOPA Management as assistant accountant at Tarangire SOPA Lodge, and at Endoro Lodge, Karatu, and with Poverty Gulch Company, as an accountant. Nelson holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Finance Management from Institute of Accountancy (IAA) and an Advanced Diploma in Accountancy from the Institute of Finance Management (IFM).
Godfrey Nyangaresi – Forest Protection Coordinator
Godfrey holds Advanced Diploma in Wildlife Management. He has 6 years of experience in wildlife conservation projects and is capable of providing emergency treatment in the field, holding a diploma in Clinical Medicine. In recent years, he worked as Head of Anti-Poaching, Conservation, and Environment at Ikona Wildlife Management Area. Godfrey also worked with communities to enhance wild animals especially elephants and human to stay in harmony. Prior to that, he has been Assistant Coordinator at Serengeti Development Research and Conservation Centre. At STEP Godfrey is coordinating Forest Protection Project activities with Tanzanian Forest Service staffs and local communities around the Udzungwa Mountains. In addition, he has developed and maintains contacts with conservation organizations and government authorities.
Athumani Mndeme – Udzungwa Manager
Athumani has 15 years of experience working on field projects in southern Tanzania. He has completed the first ever habituation of a group of Sanje mangabeys in the Udzungwa Mountains; been attacked by an elephant while monitoring kipunji; and is the only person in Tanzania who can attract a Cassin’s hawk-eagle by imitating its call. As well as being a life-long rice farmer, and a respected pillar of the community in Mang’ula, Athumani manages STEP activities in Udzungwa, and also contributes to data collection and camera-trapping in Ruaha NP.
Solomon Sembosi – Conservation Technology Officer
Solomon earned his MSc degree in Ecosystems Science and Management from Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) and BSc in Ecotourism and Nature Conservation from Sebastian Kolowa Memorial University. His research has been focused on assessment of natural resources especially vegetation using Remote sensing (RS) and Geographical Information systems (GIS). He has extensive knowledge in using various suites of proprietary and open source applications. Following his passion for geospatial technologies he has accomplished several courses from ESRI and Udemy including Earth Imagery at Work, Geo apps and Getting started with GIS as well as Fundamentals of GIS by University of California, Davis on Coursera. Before joining STEP, he has been working as a research assistant for more than 6 projects at the department of ecosystems and conservation in SUA. He enjoys helping others strengthen their skills in GPS and GIS and participating in different online GIS communities. Solomon works with the department of research and protection in STEP. But also, he assists other departments in all aspects of mapping, geospatial analysis, real-time ground surveillance systems and attempting to keep up the organization with every changing field of GIS.
Jenipha Mboya – Education Officer
Jeni is an enthusiastic conservationist with a BSc in Wildlife Science and Conservation from University of Dar es Salaam, who loves communicating her passions to others and especially young people. She joined STEP in 2015 as Research and Advocacy officer, and she assists with monitoring and research of elephants in Ruaha and Udzungwa, as well as research on human-elephant interactions in southern Tanzania. She is also an advocate for elephant conservation, and has led conservation education and park visitation programs with Iringa secondary schools.
Paulo Mndeme – Field Assistant
Paulo has worked on the project since its inception in late 2008. Together with Katarzyna Nowak, Paulo surveyed elephants in several remote forests of the Udzungwa from 2008-10, developing a range of fieldwork skills. He is an expert in counting and examining the contents of elephant dung, and camera trapping of crop raiding bulls. Paulo leads STEP’s elephant protection fence project in Mang’ula.
Joseph Kidibule – Field Assistant
Joseph also joined the project in late 2008. A farmer himself who has been personally affected by crop-raiding elephants, Joseph loves wilderness fieldwork, whether in moist forest or dry bush. Together with Paulo, he has also worked tirelessly with other local farmers to monitor and mitigate crop damage, and to reduce conflict with elephants – and has become a beekeeper in the process.
Kephania Mwaviko – Human-elephant Coexistence Officer
Kepha joined us in December 2016 to carry out monitoring of human-elephant interactions in the Ruaha-Rungwa ecosystem. Kepha is from Makifu village near Ruaha, and qualified as a tour guide at Mkuyu Guiding School in Tungamalenga. He is fulfilling his dream of working with communities to build coexistence with elephants. Kepha is always happiest around a bush television (camp fire), and is constantly increasing his knowledge of birds, trees and all things natural.
Charles Nagy & Anne Yeoman – Volunteer Pilot Team
Charles and Anne are a wonderfully dedicated and energetic conservation flying team from Wings Over Africa. They joined us in July 2014 and are responsible for establishing STEP’s Aerial Program, and guiding it subsequently from strength to strength. They fly as much as they can, carrying out surveillance and monitoring flights to protect elephants in the Ruaha-Rungwa ecosystem. Charles is a vastly experienced pilot of all types of craft including helicopters, and Annie is an expert in aerial photography and flight logistics.
BK – Driver & Mechanic
BK is known as Iringa’s most skilled and cheerful landrover mechanic. Fortunately for STEP, he also loves elephants and being in the bush.
Dr. Katarzyna Nowak – Scientific Advisor
Katarzyna, a self-described “itinerant conservationist” is currently a Safina Center Fellow in New York, and a research associate in Zoology and Entomology at the University of the Free State, Qwaqwa campus (South Africa). In 2008, together with Trevor Jones, she established the Udzungwa Elephant Project (now the Southern Tanzania Elephant Program) and embarked on a survey of elephants in the montane forests of Udzungwa. Her most recent research has focused on how wild primates deal with risk in a “landscape of fear”. She has mentored a number of student projects in Tanzania and elsewhere, and contributes to the scientific research of STEP. She is one of the founders of Request a Woman Scientist, a global directory that aims to improve the visibility and participation of woman scientists across society. She has contributed pieces about wildlife conservation to a variety of popular outlets including online National Geographic, bioGraphic, and Mongabay.
Dr Rocío Pozo – Research Advisor
Rocío has been working in conservation in Africa, Latin America and Europe for over ten years. Her research lies at the interface between the ecological and social aspects of conflicts in conservation that aims to benefit both, local people and wildlife. In particular, Rocío has been working with elephant conservation looking at effective ways to reduce and prevent conflicts between local peoples’ livelihoods and elephant conservation, by successfully developing and implementing crop-loss mitigation methods in Africa.
Dr Pozo is a qualified vet, with an MSc in Conservation (Imperial College London) and a PhD in Zoology (University of Oxford). As one of STEP’s Research Advisors, Rocío provides support for data collection and analysis, and advises on the implementation of conflict mitigation methods in the field. https://sti-cs.org/rocio-pozo/
Dr. Jeremy Cusack – Research Advisor
Originally from the French Alps, Jeremy moved to the UK to do an undergraduate degree in Zoology at the University of Bristol followed by an MSc in Conservation Science at Imperial College London. He obtained his PhD from the University of Oxford in 2016 and is now a postdoctoral researcher on the ConFooBio project at the University of Stirling.
His primary research interests focus on how conflicts between wildlife conservation and other human activities develop over time. He is also slightly obsessed with camera trapping and spent most of his PhD designing and testing ways of quantifying mammal community patterns and processes from camera trap images taken across the Ruaha landscape in Tanzania. Last but not least, he loves analysing animal movement trajectories collected using GPS collars (or other devices) to investigate habitat-use, species interactions and responses to anthropogenic landscapes.
Mohamed Ngwira – Office Caretaker
Mohamed is the caretaker and guard of STEP’s main offices in Iringa.
Amina Mndeme – Office Caretaker
Amina takes care of our Mang’ula office in the Udzungwa Mountains.
Mzee Abasi Lipongola and Bakari Issa Libawa – Security (Udzungwa)
Mzee Abasi and Bakari are the guards at our Udzungwa office.