Caroline Chebet Ng'weno, Ph.D.
Lions and Their Prey in Kenya's Maasai Mara
Dr. Caroline Chebet Ng’weno, was the Head of Research and Monitoring at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, having joined the organization in 2008 as Carnivore Program Officer. In 2018, Caroline joined theKenya Wildlife trust as Program Director of the Mara Predator Conservation Programme (MPCP), where she managed the merge of the flagship Mara Lion and Mara Cheetah Projects into one consolidated program. In 2019, Caroline transitioned to become faculty at the Kenyan University, where she will mentor emerging wildlife biologists. Caroline will also continue her research on predator prey dynamics at Olare Motorogi Conservancy with support from Earthwatch volunteers. Caroline brings both robust scientific credentials and a holistic view of how science can, and must be applied for practical conservation success, in both protected areas and human-occupied landscapes.
How does citizen science support your research?
Successful conservation projects rely on evidence collected in research and thus, citizen science is vital to adding to our knowledge base. Earthwatch participants provide essential help with gathering additional data allowing us to develop conservation management plans based on sound science. But most importantly, they also bring to our team diverse knowledge and skills based on their background and interest. Citizen scientists also gain in-depth understanding of what it takes to conserve Africa’s large carnivores and gain exclusive hands-on experience. Many participants, upon returning to their respective homes, become the voice of the iconic wildlife species in Africa, consequently building a global platform for protecting Africa’s wildlife and heritage.
What do you enjoy most about working with lions and their prey in Kenya?
Once we lose genetic diversity of lions and other wild animals, we have lost the battle to save them. I believe that the key to modern conservation is keeping tourism, the community, and conservation in a constructive and positively enhanced balance. It is most gratifying for me to be part of a team that focuses on finding solutions that can have a direct impact on promoting compatibility of wildlife conservation while ensuring local people benefit in some way.
What is one of your favorite moments in the field?
A sighting of a lifetime in the field: Coming this close to nature is a vivid reminder of why I have always been inspired by the untouched wild, but to be a part of it is something I won’t forget. One such highlight is when you feel the ground vibrate as a herd of gigantic elephants cross right in front of you. Then experience the heightening of this sense when you spot a rare leopard hidden in a tree within only 100 meters or so. It's one of those "Did that just happen?" moments.
- Ph.D. Zoology, University of Wyoming, WY (U.S.)
- Master of Philosophy, Environmental Studies, Moi University (KE)
- B.S. Education Science, Maseno University (KE)