Our team is made up of experts from both Ngorongoro and wider, most of them former lion hunters employed to actively reduce conflicts, protecting people, livestock and lions. Our Ilchokutis (lion guardians) are fully field-based.
Altapway Olewanga Ilchokuti
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.
Alting’idai Ndoros Ilchokuti
Famous and respected as the best herder of his family’s livestock, Alting’idai’s father is regarded as blessed to have such a trustworthy son. Tasked with travelling far for pasture, water and minerals he’s used to walking long distances. A special traditional prayer was provided for him when started his role and he’s well respected and recognized by his peers and community.
Balasi Gitonyoda Ilchokuti
As a Datooga from the area near Lake Eyasi, Balasi is rather special in Ngorongoro. His gentle and hardworking nature ensures that he’s appreciated by a community of about 500 people in Mushorjoga and he’s trusted by the young warriors.
Dennis Peshut Field Operations Officer
Ngorongoro born and bred, Dennis is multi-talented and has turned his hand to many different roles. He looks after our hard-working vehicles but is equally at home collecting the end of month data from the Ilchokuti, assisting with finding lions, on a laptop entering data, and basically ensuring that things are working in our massive and challenging area of work.
Emmanuel Lufilisha Research Assistant
After finishing his BSc in Wildlife Management in 2018, Emmanuel joined the Serengeti Lion Project as a Research Assistant, and then joined our team in 2022. He’s well versed in GIS and surveys across Tanzania and is a talented photographer. Monitoring lions from the Crater to the south-west of NCA, he has fitted straight into the Maasai culture and keeps us supplied with fish from his home in Mwanza!
Gladness Manase Finance & Administration Manager
Aside from having her MBA, Gladness is an expert at Quickbooks and even Open Data Kit. She has successfully set up workable financial systems for KopeLion, and even while based in Arusha she manages to juggle all KopeLion’s demands with the calmness required, and always with a smile.
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 is currently tackling a PhD on the lion-human coexistence theme at SLU university in Umeå, Sweden.
Kambaine Parmet Ilchokuti
In his first months of working with us, in his eagerness to see the lions in his area, Kambaine got chased up a tree by some angry lioness and had to be rescued! Working in the wild remote area of Orgilay, Kambaine is often on his own, and its tough! He manages amazingly and is slowly building himself a solid reputation in his community. His adoration for his daughter is where he finds his strength.
Katakara O. Katero Ilchokuti
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.
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.
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 Ilchokuti
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 Ilchokuti
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.
Lazaro Oletekero Ilchokuti Coordinator
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.
Leapa Ndiuni Ilchokuti
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.
Lillian Lepere Office Administrator
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.
Loseryan Kulangai Ilchokuti
Loseryan works in the zone where lions often traverse spanning a populated area down towards the Lake Eyasi escarpment. An area with outstanding views.
Lukas Moiri Ilchokuti Coordinator
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.
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.
Masanja Tulito Ilchokuti
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 Ilchokuti
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.
Having done very well in school, due to a lack of funds, Moson did not get to achieve his academic dreams. We however recognize that the skills that he has probably far outweigh anything he could have been taught at university. His zone is Orkuranga between the Makarot mountain and Ndutu, and while this rugged terrain keeps him physically active, we hope to keep his mind active with all the trainings planned for Ilchokuti.
Ndelelya Olepesai Ilchokuti
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.
Ndolok Kilitia Ilchokuti Coordinator
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.
Ngaayai Ormunderei Ilchokuti
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.
Ololotu MunkaProgrammes Coordinator
Hailing from Loliondo, with a degree in Rural Development and several years experience working with large scale development projects in northern Tanzania, Ololotu has enormous energy and capability and has leapt straight into tackling the Conservation Incentive Payments pilot.
With his massive energy, Oloning’o takes charge of Ngolola zone. After several successful lion hunts, Oloning’o was badly attacked and taken to hospital by KopeLion. Despite being a respected warrior, he was persuaded to stop killing lions and bears a large scar as a reminder and of his dedication to now protecting them.
Rapaito Matunda Ilchokuti Coordinator
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.
Retilda Nicolas Household & Logistics Coordinator
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.
Roimen Lelya Lion Monitoring & Conflict Officer
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.
Rumas OlelekipaIlchokuti Coordinator
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.
Sally Capper Director Of Strategy & Development
With a background in community-based conservation, wildlife management and environmental development, Sally has over 25 years of experience of leading organizations in East Africa. She has a strong track record of starting up initiatives as well as ensuring their on-going management. She is passionate about making others shine.
Sandet Kitumi Ilchokuti
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.
Selina Masharia Phone Operator
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.
Silo Gisamuda Ilchokuti
Silo proved himself for the Ilchokuti position by not only being the best wildlife tracker, but also by sharing all the information he found with his competitors. From remote Olpiro, overlooking the Eyasi basin, Silo reports large numbers of wildlife on a daily basis.