Retilda Nicolas


We “inherited” Retilda from Frankfurt Zoological Society as we got access the fabulous little Crater rim house for use as our home & office. Retilda’s good mood and warm heart, and fabulous bean stews keeps us all sane as we tear our hairs over admin duties, or come back starving from the field. When invited to come along on a trip to the lions, there is no hesitation as Retilda leaps into the car to join. Nor does she hesitate when it comes to sorting out the tidiness of the house, or a failing sewage system – one would have to search hard for a more gung-ho lady.

House & Office Assistant - keeps us clean and sane.

Meshack Daudi


What would we do without Meshack? Much of our work, for better or for worse, depends on vehicles. Driven in rough terrain, on corrugated roads, and with poor quality spare parts, our vehicles are in constant need of a mechanics healing hands. Meshack has been our big support for many years now. His sense of commitment and responsibility is above most. If we called him at 3 am on a Sunday, he’d be ready to come for rescue.

Vehicle support - ensures our small fleet stays on track!

Ingela Jansson

Ingela was born and raised on a small farm in central Sweden. In her 20s, after taking a lower level nursing degree, she spent her time either traveling or working in hospitals saving up for the next trip. A journey to Africa in 1991 inspired me to return as a biologist, and find work in a wild and wonderful savannah. Ingela eventually took a degree in Biology at Umea University, finishing with a MSc thesis on brown bear ecology in collaboration with the Scandinavian Brown Bear Research Project. Then joined a friend on a cycle trip through East Africa, much for the possibility of stumbling upon a job. Got lucky and landed a job as research assistant on the Serengeti Lion Project – a biologist’s dream!

Ingela scanning Crater floor for lions. Better view from the vehicle roof. Lions on the Crater floor are not tagged in any way (i.e. no radio collars) and we rely on finding them by sight. Often we are helped by tourists in the area – seeing a cluster of vehicles indicates either a rhino or a group of lions.
Ingela scanning Crater floor for lions. Better view from the vehicle roof. Lions on the Crater floor are not tagged in any way (i.e. no radio collars) and we rely on finding them by sight. Often we are helped by tourists in the area – seeing a cluster of vehicles indicates either a rhino or a group of lions.
Ingela and Kayanda
Kayanda and Ingela

After 3 years, monitoring lions in Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater she was ready for more hands-on conservation work. In late 2010 she based herself full-time in Ngorongoro and started up what later became KopeLion. In 2015 she enrolled as PhD student at SLU, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, on a project titled “Balancing pastoralist livelihoods with wildlife management”. Over the next couple of years, she will divide her time between field work in Ngorongoro, and data analyzing and writing in a more academic setting in the Swedish north.

William Oleseki


William was born and raised in Ngorongoro. He had more book- than bush skills, and it was obvious that he could reach far beyond being a herd boy. Thanks to foresight by his parents and sponsors, William was sent away for education. His studies took him to studies at universities in Irland and Uganda, where he graduated with a degree in Development Studies. William has intimate knowledge of the social, economic and political dimensions of coexistence in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and he has worked for both the Pastoralist Council and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority. As to most residents here, the Ngorongoro is very dear to William. He immediately saw and embraced the vision of KopeLion – for a successful human-lion coexistence managed by him and his people.

Stakeholder Relations Advisor

Ndiyai Lemindia

Ndiyai from Oloirobi is our newest member on the team. She joined as our phone operator, and is in constant reach with the field staff as they call in their reports. Ndiyai, is our only Maasai lady on our team. In respect of Maasai culture we can hardly aim for a team with gender equality - trekking the terrain in search of lions and mitigating predators attack on livestock tasks for a warrior. Thus, we are very glad to have a lady phone soldier!

Telephone Operator

KopeLion, Tate

Tate Oleku

KopeLion, Tate

Tate Oleku Olelepayon is born and raised in Meshili village, Ngorongoro, in a polygamist family with two wives and 17 children. He is now married to one wife and they have two children. Among all his siblings, Tate was the lucky one to acquire modern education. After primary and secondary school, he achieved a college certificate in wildlife and tourism, and thereafter a Bachelor degree in Tourism Management at Sokoine University of Agriculture. After this, Tate got a year’s employment with the Ilaramatak Lorkonerei Pastoralists’ Advancement (IOPA) as Program Officer for a local Women Economic Group.

Tate joined KopeLion in May 2015 as an assistant manager. He works closely with the Ilchokuti and scouts to accomplish the project’s mission of sustainable co-existence. Tate is very happy and proud to work with Lion researchers and conservationists with a clear desire for community participation. Currently KopeLion monitor and track the whereabouts of a few GPS collared lions’ that live in community area. Among them is Nayomi which is Tate’s favourite. She is the first collared lioness Tate have known, and he finds her very intelligent as she manages to survive, and also raise all her cubs in the conflicting environment she lives in. Lastly, Tate treasures all the new skills and insights he gets from working with Nayomi including knowledge about wildlife and the use of the scientific tools like GPS, telemetry tracking, and the computer. Tate aspires to continue working as a mediator for wildlife and community, to pursue the promising and sustainable links between human – wildlife and livestock – wildlife in its continuum of challenges.

Tate searching lions.
Tate searching for  lions.

We feel very fortunate to have Tate on our team. His respectful and engaging manner helps us strengthen the bonds with the communities and other important stakeholders in the area. With a pen instead of a spear in his hand, Tate is our conflict resolution warrior.

Staff Manager & Community Outreach Officer

Lazaro Oletekero

Lazaro with his new Lundhag's back pack. Thank´s Lundhag´s!
Lazaro with his new Lundhag's back pack. Thank´s Lundhag´s!

Lazaro, our Lion Scout of Misigiyo, that beautiful highland area on way to Endulen. If you are training for a marathon, join Lazaro on his searching treks for lions. Lazaro has collected some excellent shots of lions and other rarely spotted critters from camera traps placed on top of mountains or in deep valleys. And since we collared Museum, this “village-lion” keeps Lazaro busy on many days. Equipped with tracking antenna and Museum’s latest GPS position, Lazaro hikes out to the location and hangs around there for the day, warning any passing herders of the potential cow-thief hiding in the bushes.

Lion Scout
Area: Misigio ward

Ndolok Kilitia

Ndolok was our first Nyangulu that we hired, the age-set that is now replacing the retiring Korianga from their 15 years of service as warriors. Ndolok serves as a lion scout in Oldonyo Gol, our most distant and different area of operation. This is a vast area, by the chain of hills that breaks up the “endless” short-grass plains of Serengeti. Here traditions hold strong, and young warriors are still eager to go on ritual hunts. Being such a large place that also crosses into other protected areas, Ndolok’s main instrument is his good network with his peers – hearing about planned hunts, or else of hunts that happened. Apart from keeping his ears to the ground, Ndolok surveys depredation events, visiting sites of attacks by baboons, hyenas, jackals and cheetah on his neighbours’ livestock. And he is always on the ready to help treat the wounds of attacked and “only” injured livestock. Ndolok has really grown into his position, and despite his large task he is gaining ground with his age-mates and his community to rather spare than spear the lions.

Lion Scout
Area: Oldonyo Gol

KopeLion, Timan

Timan Naidoso

KopeLion, TimanIn another life when he was a young Morani, Timan killed nine lions. His hunting success has given him a high status and level of respect within his community, making him a pivotal member of KopeLion. When Timan started with KopeLion in 2014, he barely spoke any (Ki)Swahili. As Timan grows with KopeLion, he helps us stop lion hunts (his favorite part of his job), while we try to teach him a few words here and there. He is nearly conversant now!

Area dry season: Natukuree zone
Area wet season: Isilale zone

KopeLion, Sandet

Sandet Kitumi

KopeLion, SandetSandet is KopeLion’s strong and steady Ilchokuti. Sandet is from Esinoni, Nayomi’s (a collared lioness) regular territory. His strength and bravery comes out when Nayomi is in trouble. He guards her like his prize cow, repeatedly physically stepping in between Nayomi’s pride and herders grazing and/or warriors on a lion hunt. During the dry seasons, Sandet goes out every day to help monitor lions, his favorite part of his job, and help negate potential conflicts.

Area dry season: Esinone zone
Area wet season: Kiloki zone