The Save the Elephants charity was founded in 1993 by Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton, CBE, Chief Executive Officer, who made a pioneering study of elephant behaviour in the late ’60s in Lake Manyara National Park, Tanzania, and has worked on elephant status Africa-wide since. Explorers, conservationists and elephant scientists serve as fellow trustees or advisors to the board.
We recognise the need to find solutions to reconcile elephants with the people with whom they share their land. Our Elephants and Bees Project is core to our mission to investigate innovative and cost-effective methods to reduce conflict as well as exploring the cultural relationships between people and elephants.
Dr Lucy King, DPhil
Head of STE’s Human-Elephant Co-Existence Program and Elephants and Bees Project Leader
Dr Lucy King was brought up in Somalia, Lesotho and Kenya. She has been researching the use of honey bees as a natural deterrent for crop-raiding elephants since 2006, and has published her findings in numerous scientific journals. Her DPhil thesis, through Oxford University and in partnership with Save the Elephants and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, was awarded the UNEP/CMS Thesis Award 2011 from the United Nations Environment Program’s Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species. She won The Future for Nature Award and The St Andrews Prize for the Environment in 2013. She is actively involved in the Kenyan Elephant Forum (KEF) and in 2013 she was invited to join IUCN’s African Elephant Specialist Group. Previously she completed an MSc in Biology, Integrative Bioscience, from Balliol College, Oxford (2006) and gained a First Class degree in Zoology from Bristol University (1999). Between 2000 and 2005, she led numerous conservation projects and adventurous expeditions to Africa and South America in her role as Operations Director for Quest Overseas. She now lives in Nairobi with her partner and is Head of the Human-Elephant Co-Existence Program for Save the Elephants.
Dr Iain Douglas-Hamilton,
CEO of Save the Elephants
Dr Iain Douglas-Hamilton, CBE, is one of the world’s foremost authorities on the African elephant. Dr Douglas-Hamilton pioneered the first in-depth scientific study of elephant social behaviour in Tanzania’s Lake Manyara National Park at age 23 receiving a DPhil in Zoology from Oxford University for his work. During the 1970s he investigated the status of elephants throughout Africa and was the first to alert the world to the ivory poaching holocaust. He chronicled how Africa’s elephant population was halved between 1979 and 1989 and helped bring about the world ivory trade ban. Dr Douglas-Hamilton and his wife Oria have co-authored two award-winning books, “Among the Elephants” and “Battle for the Elephants” and have made numerous television films. He founded Save the Elephants in 1993 in order to create an effective and flexible NGO dedicated specifically to elephants. He serves on the data review task force of the African Elephant Specialist Group of IUCN, and the Technical Advisory Group for MIKE. He also conducts regular lecture tours and works with the media to promote STE’s mission and awareness of elephants in general. Over the last few years Iain has spoken at numerous conferences including the Wildlife Conservation Network, the 7th World Wilderness Congress, the International Elephant and Rhino Research Symposium in Vienna, the CIWF Animal Sentience Conference 2005, and was the keynote speaker at the International Elephant Foundation conference on ‘Human-elephant relationships and conflict’ in Sri Lanka. His chief research interest is to understand elephant choices by studying their movements. For his work on elephants he was awarded one of conservation’s highest awards the Order of the Golden Ark in 1988 and was named the recipient of the 2010 Indianapolis Prize, one of the world’s leading awards for animal conservation. In the 2015 honours list he was awarded CBE (Commander of the British Empire) by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Prof Fritz Vollrath, PhD
Save the Elephants’ Chairman
and Academic Supervisor
Prof. Fritz Vollrath, the Chairman of Save the Elephants, studied in Germany and obtained his PhD (with a thesis on spider behaviour) in 1977 from Freiburg University. He completed research fellowships and fieldwork with the Max Plank Institute in Seewiesen and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. After 9 years in Oxford as Royal Society Post-doctorate Research Fellow and University Research Associate, 5 years in Switzerland (Basel) as Associate Professor and 8 years in Denmark (Aarhus) as Professor of Zoology, he is now back at the University of Oxford as Visiting Research Professor in the Department of Zoology and Senior Research Associate of Balliol College.
Prof Vollrath’s research focuses on the evolution of spider web-building behaviour and on the extraordinary properties of the silk used to build the webs. His studies on the spider’s movements during web construction have led to analysis tools and novel insights into animal decision making. STE employs these findings at the other end of the scale of animal sizes while investigating elephant movements and decisions. Prof Vollrath has been an STE Trustee since the year 2002. In 2003 he became the new STE Chairman when Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton became President and CEO of the organisation. Together they published the first paper in 2002 on the use of African honeybees to prevent elephants from foraging on acacia trees.
Dr Joseph Soltis, PhD
Bioacoustic Expert from Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Dr Joseph Soltis is a Senior Scientists at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida and leads their bioacoustic laboratory. He teamed up with Dr King and The Elephants and Bees Project in 2008 to help explore elephant vocal responses to bees and other threats in their environment. As the research has developed and expanded, Dr Soltis has made annual visits to Kenya and continues to analyse data when back in Florida.
PhD Research Student – Sri Lanka
Kylie Butler is a PhD Candidate through the University of Newcastle, Australia. With Dr. Lucy King as field supervisor, Kylie is establishing a beehive fence study site near Wasgamuwa National Park, Sri Lanka to scientifically evaluate the potential of using Asian honeybees as an Asian elephant crop-raiding deterrent.
Kylie is working in partnership with Save the Elephants, the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of Peradeniya, to study elephant demographics, social behaviour and movement patterns in Wasgamuwa District, and investigate just how elephants are responding to the beehive fences.
Kylie’s passion for elephant conservation and research grew after her first visit to Africa in 2007, volunteering on a marine and terrestrial conservation project. Kylie then completed her Master of Environment, in partnership with Dr. Lucy King and Save the Elephants achieving a First Class Honours grade. Her research project was entitled ‘Social learning in African elephants: behavioural homogeneity of mothers and offspring in response to threats’.
In 2013, Kylie has spent a further field season at Dr. King’s beehive fence project site in Sagalla, Kenya learning about human-elephant conflict and the beehive fence deterrent tool. Back in Australia, Kylie was Committee Chair for the International March for Elephants, a peaceful protest held in over 35 cities worldwide to call for an end to the ivory trade. In 2012, Kylie worked as a Team Expedition Leader for Global Vision International’s Thai Elephant Forest Re-habitation project, looking at captive elephant welfare and social behaviour. Currently based in both Sri Lanka and Australia, Kylie will spend three years completing her PhD, and is embracing the exciting opportunity to discover the potential role of beehive fencing in reducing human-elephant conflict in Asia, and thus helping conserve this majestic but endangered species.
Ethno-Botanist – Kenya
Anne Powys was born and raised on Suyian Ranch in Laikipia, northern Kenya. An ethno botanist with considerable knowledge of the traditional uses of plants, she has a long and deep association with the resident pastoral communities of Kenya. She founded and runs The Suyian Trust and has spent over a decade teaching safari guides botanical courses all across East Africa focusing on the useful things about plants, especially the medicinal. With a grandfather as a forester and an upbringing filled with “plant safaris” it was hardly surprising that Anne would end up becoming devoted to the preservation of flora with special emphasis on the remaining indigenous forests of Northern Kenya. Anne is presently consulting with the Elephants and Bees Project to help us understand what dry and wet season indigenous plants our honey bees rely on for forage. With her help we have established a tree nursery of bee fodder plants and also the first ever “Sagalla Herbarium” at the Research Center.
Beehive Fence Training and Database Officer
Esther Serem is our Beehive Fence Training and Database Officer. She is responsible for handling large sets of beehive fence, elephant tracking and crop-raiding assessment data. She also organises visits and trains visitors and farmers in our project site and in other areas she visits.
She started working with us in July 2016 after two successful internships in August 2015 and May-June 2016. She graduated in November 2016 from Karatina University with a BSc in Natural Resources (Wildlife Management option). She is very passionate and enthusiastic about wildlife conservation with a love for community conservation.
Tsavo Geographic Information System (GIS) Officer
Gloria Mugo is the Tsavo project GIS officer mandated with managing GPS-tracking data from crop-raiding elephants within the community land, processing and analysis for mapping purposes. She trains interns and project officers on appropriate handling of GPS data to maintain data efficacy. She is currently developing useful vegetation maps for Taita-Taveta region, which will serve as key base map for various ongoing research aspects.
Research Centre Logistician
After his BSc in Zoology, Ewan completed his MSc in Conservation from University College London in 2015. Research projects took him to the forests of Ecuador and northeastern China to study biodiversity and human-wildlife interactions. Following graduation he went on to work seasonally in Scottish Wildcat conservation close to family he has in the North of the country.
Drawn to the more exciting and promising prospects for nature conservation in Africa, he undertook two internships in 2017; first researching Leopard with the Cape Leopard Trust in South Africa and then at the Elephants and Bees Project. He has recently returned to Kenya as the Elephants and Bees Project Logistician, coordinating the Tsavo research camp and helping with development of an exciting Mobile Outreach Unit.
Research Center Officer – Sagalla Community
Hesron Nzumu is our Research Center Officer in Sagalla Community next to Tsavo East National Park. He began as a carpenter on the project in 2009 making KTBH beehives and helping us install the hives in our first trial Beehive Fences.
He became so passionate about the project that he was promoted to an official Field Assistant for the Sagalla project site in 2012. Although he still assists the other farmers with their Beehive Fence maintenance and honey harvesting, in 2014 Nzumu supervised the construction of the Elephants and Bees Research Center and is now in charge of co-ordinating activities at the centre and hosting all the workshops and meetings held in our Training Room.
Beehive Fence Officer – Sagalla Community
Emmanuel Mwambingu is our Beehive Fence Officer in Kenya and overseas the data collection on our field site in Sagalla, collecting information about the beehive occupancy rates, elephant visits to the beehive fence protected farms and also helps to co-ordinate new beehive fence construction around the Sagalla communities. Originally an English Teacher by training, Emmanuel had now completed a Bee Products and Processing Course at Baraka College in Nakuru and is presently in charge of assisting interns and students with their individual projects at the Elephants and Bees Research Center next to Tsavo East National Park.
Tsavo Geographic Information System (GIS) Officer – Nairobi
Michael is a GIS Research Assistant at Save the Elephants. He is primarily involved with elephant tracking data and GIS mapping around the beehive fenced farms and the Tsavo Ecosystem. He joined STE in January 2015, having successfully completed an internship in our Elephants and Bees Project in Sagalla, Tsavo. Michael has a MSc in GIS and Remote Sensing from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, and a BSc in Geography from Moi University, Kenya. He has previously worked as a GIS project officer at Flametree Systems Engineering Ltd, Nairobi and later as a GIS consultant at International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), East Africa. At ILRI, Michael was involved in building up a geodatabase of biophysical, livelihood and economic variables meant for National Climate Change Action Plan. Michael is keen on applying geospatial information techniques to understand the spatial relationships, interactions and patterns within the wildlife ranges.
PhD Research Student – Kenya
George has been a PhD candidate based at The Australian National University since April 2016 and is currently completing 2 years of fieldwork with the Elephants and Bees Project. George’s research investigates the effect of climate change on elephant diets and movement patterns, as well as human-elephant conflict. She spends the majority of her time observing the foraging behaviour of elephants in Tsavo East National Park but also follows a group of our GPS-collared elephants remotely in addition to visiting our farmers when elephant crop-raids occur. George is based at the our project until the end of 2018, when she will return to Australia to write up her thesis.
School and Education Program Officer
Kennedy joined us in mid-2017 as a research assistant intern to our Master’s student studying non-palatable crops after a successful internship at STE’s Samburu field site. With passion, dedication and enthusiasm for community conservation, he now runs our Education Project in lower Sagalla, focusing largely on students from the Kileva Primary School neighbouring our Project.
Lemayian hopes to expand the Education Program to other local schools in Taita Taveta, as he shares our belief that local communities need to be actively engaged in conserving their wildlife and surrounding environment. Most importantly, Lemayian emphasizes the need for children to get involved in conservation, as they will have the largest part to play in securing a future for their wildlife, including elephants. With his interest and knowledge in conservation farming, Lemayian also manages the school Permaculture Garden, Bee Fodder Nursery, and is in charge of community outreach events.
Dr Lydia Tiller, PhD
Research and Science Manager
Dr Lydia Tiller is our Research and Science Manager who coordinates our field research and data collection. She helps to supervise student projects, interns and staff in the field. Lydia is taking a lead on our collared elephant project, hoping to gain a better understanding of elephant movement and elephant crop raiding behaviour across the Tsavo ecosystem. Lydia is also an editor for the journal ‘Pachyderm’ which is a specialist journal about elephants and rhinos.
Lydia joined our team in January 2018 after completing her PhD at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent. Her research looked at how land-use change in the Trans Mara district in Kenya is driving human-elephant conflict and elephant movement. Prior to conducting her PhD, Lydia worked in Thailand, studying elephant cognition, and also worked on a seabird project in Oregon. She completed her MSc in Wild Animal Biology from the Royal Veterinary College and Zoological Society of London. For her MSc project, Lydia investigated the use of unpalatable crops as a mitigation method to deter crop raiding wildlife.