KopeLion team

Below you find KopeLion’s dedicated team, most of us local residents of Ngorongoro. Our Ilchokutis are fully field based. Each of them are responsible for a 60-120 square-km large zone, a place where they also live.

Ingela Jansson

Ingela began working with lions for Serengeti Lion Project in 2006. In 2011, by engaging Ngorongoro community members, she expanded the long-term lion survey, founding KopeLion. Ingela leads KopeLion's operations and research, while also tackling a PhD on the lion-human coexistence theme at SLU university in Umeå, Sweden.

Roimen Lelya

Roimen Lelya

With his excitement and curiosity about lions, rapid learning skills and resourcefulness, Roimen rapidly advanced from to coordinator to our person in charge of lion monitoring and conflict mitigation as well as being an expert in putting GPS collars on lions.

Lilian Lepere

Lillian Lepere

Lillian has lived in the NCA for most of her life and has worked with KopeLion since 2017. With a Certificate of Tourism under her belt she quickly took on the role of Office Administrator, assisting with data collections and filing the monthly reports. Lillian’s favourite lion is Kalamas, because he's handsome and he respects the Maasai livestock.


Selina Masharia

Selina grew up with a view of the crater. Having completed Secondary school, she’s now improving her computing skills through data entry. Her responsiveness on the phone as the Ilchokuti call in their reports and as she daily sends on the lion updates is highly appreciated by our team and the community.

Retilda Nicolas

Retilda’s good mood and warm heart keeps us all sane as we tear our hairs over admin duties, or come back starving from the field. She is always up for everything and she is fast becoming our ‘go to’ mechanic as she additionally takes on the role of looking after the KopeLion fleet.

Lazaro Oletekero

Lazaro Oletekero

The Ilchokuti Coordinator of Misigiyo, the beautiful highland area on the way to Endulen, Lazaro has taken on his role with determination and pride. Lazaro is a skilled trainer of new Ilchokuti and is passionate about treating livestock wounded by predators and what an important part of his role it is within the community.

Lukas Moiri

Lukas Moiri

Lukas excels in every aspect of his job: community outreach, communication with management, reinforcing bomas, and finding lost livestock. Lucas is the Coordinator of the Malilima zone, a central area in the project and NCA itself. It sees many livestock pass though and so finding lost livestock keeps him extremely busy.

Ndolok Kilitya

Ndolok Kilitia

Ndolok, the Coordinator of the Olduvai Ilchokutis serves in Oldonyo Gol, our most distant and different area of operation. Here traditions hold strong, and young warriors are still eager to go on ritual hunts. Ndolok is experienced and is gaining ground with his age-mates and his community to rather spare than spear the lions.

Altapway Olewanga

Altapway Olewanga

Altapway was hired to a newly opened zones as lions increased from Makarut mountain to the Kiloki valley leading towards Olduvai. He occasionally has to help children get to school as elephants get in their way.

Katakara Orishi

Katakara O. Katero

Katakara is our whistler extraordinaire and one of the luckiest guys on the KopeLion team. On Katakara’s first day of work he found lion spoors near his home and, within the next few hours, he helped Kope Lion collar a beautiful male lion. He is a superb tracker and regularly helps our new staff members develop their skills.

Kayanda Olenini

Before joining us, Kayanda helped us stop a couple of lion hunts in his home area. He was inspired by our work through his good friend Roimen. Kayanda has that lion obsession typical of a very traditional warrior, which easily converts him from a lion killer to a lion protector. The latter bringing even more challenge and pride.

KopeLion, Kinyi

Kinyi Olendolok

Kinyi’s love for not only his work, but for life, exudes from every ounce of his being. His smile and charisma captivated us in 2014 and since then, his way with people has come in handy as he has stopped several lion hunts. He regularly mentors new warriors (Morani) on the benefits of lions and conservation.

Kisyombe Telele

Kisyombe Telele

Whenever something needs to be done, Kisyombe steps up. If a lion comes into his zone or if there is a potential lion hunt by members of his community, Kisyombe immediately monitors the lion or deters the hunt. Not only is Kisyombe hardworking, but he is interested in learning everything.

Lambarakwo Saning'o

Lambarakwo Saning’o

Lambarakwo holds up the southern western zone in the Engarusi valley towards the Serengeti plains. He’s become very busy protecting both cattle and lions as Lemunge and his gang have taken up residence in his area.

Leapa Ndiuni

Leapa Ndiuni

Leapa joined our team when lions started to move in for the longer term on the north western side of the crater. Leapa is constantly improving his lion identification skills and additionally helps to record our lion depredation data.

Loseryan Kulangai

Loseryan works in the zone where lions often traverse spanning a populated area down towards the Lake Eyasi escarpment. An area with outstanding views.

Maanda Lemate

Maanda Lemati

Maanda hold the beautiful area on the northern slopes of the Magarut mountain up to 3,000m, where lions and other wildlife venture for good feeding and rest and possibly for the view too. Maanda’s quiet disposition and inner strength ensure that he’s a perfect fit for this zone.

Machanyoda Gidamane

Machanyoda Gidamane

Machanyoda is Datoga, an ethnic minority within NCA, but like the Maasai, Datoga are traditionally pastoralists. A traditional leader within his age class, he has great respect from his community and engages them with passion not only to stop lion hunts, but to share the benefits of lion conservation.

Masanja Tulito

Masanja Tulito

Masanja describes his job as ‘like being on honeymoon’. Together with keeping us all amused with his constant upbeat humour, Masanja’s respect for his role and hard work really pays off in Ndiyani on the southwestern rim of the crater.

Mbekure Mujuu

Mbekure Mujuu

Mbekure is a very traditional Maasai, looking after the large flat area of Nabartat, a remote part of NCA. With the guidance of other Ilchokuti, he has grown into his role and stepped up to new technology to use a GPS unit, and compile and record monthly data.

Ndelelya Olepesai

Ndelelya joined KopeLion as Laipangwa appeared in a new area and someone needed to take on the role of being his custodian in this densely populated area around the Olbalbal swamp. Ndelelya’s succeeded so far to keep both livestock and lions safe.

Ngayai Ormunderei

Ngaayai Ormunderei

Ngaayai is another mountain man. He works from the clouds of Oleani mountain to the slopes of Lake Eyasi. Lions frequently pass through his area. He is strong of mind and integrity and intensely proud of his homeland.

Rapaitp Matunda

Rapaito Matunda

Rapaito thrives through working in his home area of Engidokun in the far south of the NCA, where the winds blow heavy in the dry season. With his height, his strength and his dedication, he’s perfectly fashioned to survive the challenges of his role.

Rumas Olelekipa

Rumas Olelekipa

Rumas works on the western outer slope of the crater and is kept busy by lions and wildlife related issues, Rumas is very reliable and hard working. He has a great eye for detail, is hugely proud of his job and we constantly ask a lot from him.

KopeLion, Sandet

Sandet Kitumi

Sandet is KopeLion’s strong and steady Ilchokuti. Sandet is from Esinoni, and with his ears close to the ground he has managed to prevent a number of ritual hunts or Alamayo before they even start.

Photo credit: Bobby-Jo Photography (most of the splendid photos above)