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, and is currently in Denmark studying for a Masters in Natural Resource Management at the University of Copenhagen.
Dr. Trevor Jones – CEO
Trevor has over 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.
Emma Impink – Programs Manager
Emma has worked in East Africa for more than eight years, mostly on the human side of things. After majoring in African Studies at Barnard College and spending a semester at the Wildlife Management Program at the School for Field Studies in southern Kenya, she returned in 2011 with The BOMA Project as a Princeton in Africa Fellow. There, she conducted the organization’s first impact assessments of small businesses started by micro-grants and provided field support in 18 villages in northern Kenya. At the end of 2012, she moved to Tanzania to help start One Acre Fund’s operations. Over the following 6+ years, she helped grow the organization from serving 1,000 farmers to over 50,000. At One Acre Fund, she built the Monitoring and Evaluation Team, the Product Innovations Department and eventually became Tanzania’s Director of Impact. After supporting the program’s expansion to northern Tanzania and consulting on behavior change work in Burundi, Emma left One Acre Fund and joined STEP. Emma has always been passionate about conservation and human-wildlife coexistence. Rather then seeing STEP as a career shift, she prefers to see it as coming home.
Frank Lihwa – Protection 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 in 2015, 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 now leads the Protection Department, including the Aerial Surveillance Program and Ranger/Scout support in Rungwa-Kizigo-Muhesi Game Reserves, MBOMIPA WMA and Ruaha National Park, as well as collaborating on geospatial and other conservation technologies in service of elephant and habitat protection.
Geofrey Lubengo – Finance, Administration and Grants Officer
Geofrey joined STEP in 2018 as an experienced accountant and administrator, and leads on the management of budgets and grants for the whole organisation.
Nelson David – Finance and Administration Officer
Nelson joined STEP in 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).
Joseph Mwalugelo – Corridor Restoration Manager
Joseph leads STEP’s project in the Kilombero Valley to restore ecological connectivity between the Selous and Udzungwa ecosystems via a community-led Magombera-Mwanihana Elephant Corridor. Working tirelessly and always cheerfully with everyone from communities to Government, Joseph is dedicated to developing wildlife corridors in Tanzania as a solution to help enhance human-wildlife coexistence and increase livelihoods.
Athumani Mndeme – Corridor Restoration Officer
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 is currently focused on working with his neighbours to develop the Magombera-Mwanihana Elephant Corridor.
Godfrey Nyangaresi – Forest Protection Coordinator
Godfrey holds an Advanced Diploma in Wildlife Management, has 8 years of experience in wildlife conservation projects, and is capable of providing emergency treatment in the field, holding a diploma in Clinical Medicine. Before joining STEP, 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.
Solomon Sembosi – Protection and 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. Before he joined STEP in 2017, Solomon worked 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 in the departments of research and protection in STEP, and directly manages and coordinates the 32 Village Game Scouts under our MBOMIPA Protection Project. 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.
Shafii Amiri – Human-Elephant Coexistence Coordinator – Rungwa
Kim Lim – Human-Elephant Coexistence Coordinator – Kilombero
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 first joined STEP in 2015 as Research and Advocacy officer, and has developed expertise in human-elephant interactions in southern Tanzania. Having led park visitation programs with Iringa secondary schools, currently Jeni is teaching modules on elephant ecology, human-wildlife coexistence, and wildlife corridors in 18 primary and secondary schools in the Kilombero Valley.
Paulo Mndeme (Nasibu) – Human-Elephant Coexistence Officer
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 – Research Officer
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.
Innocent Mwasubila – Human-elephant Coexistence Officer
Mr. Innocent holds a bachelors degree in Wildlife Management from the College Of African Wildlife Management (Mweka). He Joined STEP in 2018, and first participated in households ground survey of the community adjacent to Rungwa-Kizigo-Muhesi Game Reserves. Innocent works as HEC Officer in Kilombero Valley, where he works closely with farmers adjacent to Udzungwa Mountains NP and Selous Game Reserve to mitigate human-elephant conflict using beehive fences, solar lights, and monitoring of VSLAs to improve local livelihoods. Mr. Innocent also assists the Research Officer in monitoring elephant movement in Kilombero Valley using camera traps.
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.
We are also extremely lucky to work with two other dedicated pilots, Ferdi Koekomoer and Ahmed Dahal (Eddie), and to have our aircraft serviced by highly experienced aviation engineer and flight instructor, Richard Nicholson.
BK – Vehicles Manager
BK is known as Iringa’s most skilled and cheerful landrover mechanic. Fortunately for STEP, he also loves elephants and being in the bush.
Kelvin Madege – Driver and Mechanic
Felister Kidunu – Finance and Administration Assistant
Prisca – Office Caretaker
Prisca takes care of our main Iringa office, as well as cooking fantastic beans and rice for us each day.
Amina Mndeme – Office Caretaker
Amina takes care of our Mang’ula office in the Udzungwa Mountains.
Mzee Abasi Lipongola and Hamisi Mohamed Mbisa – Security (Udzungwa)
Mzee Abasi and Bakari are the guards at our Udzungwa office.