Meet the TREPA Team
Susana Helena Baule
Susana Helena Baule, a member of the miombo network, is also a researcher and advocate for environmental conservation, with a strong focus on educating communities about the importance of protecting and conserving biodiversity. With a diverse educational background and experience in the field, she has made significant contributions to the understanding of human geography, development, and sustainable management of woodlands in Southern Africa. She holds a Master’s Degree in Management of Development with a Specialization in Rural Development allowing her to approach research and community engagement from multiple perspectives. She has been involved in numerous research projects centered on Human Geography and Development. Of particular importance are her studies on the welfare of citizens residing in the buffer zones of the Gorongosa and Limpopo National Parks. These projects have shed light on the challenges faced by communities living in these sensitive areas, providing valuable insights for sustainable development and conservation efforts. Susana’s contributions to the field of research extend beyond the boundaries of academia. She actively collaborated in numerous research endeavors, which resulted in several publications in renowned journals. One such notable publication is “Charcoal-related Forest degradation dynamics in dry African woodlands: Evidence from Mozambique.”
Andre Botha is the Program Manager: Vultures for Africa, Endangered Wildlife Trust, is Project Officer, Endangered Wildlife Trust/Hawk Conservancy Trust/University of Reading Partnership and has been co-chair of the IUCN SSC Vulture Specialist Group since 2012. He has experience in the trapping, tagging and tracking of more than 1100 individuals of a range of vulture, raptor and other bird species in 9 countries in sub-Sahara Africa and 2 countries in Asia to date. In 2016/17 he was overarching coordinator for the drafting and adoption of the CMS Multi-species Action Plan for African-Eurasian Vultures by all 128 range states at the CMS Conference of the Parties in October 2017. He is currently leading the mid-term implementation of this plan under contract from CMS.. He and Dr. Gore began collaborating in approximately 2015 on a UMD National Socioenvironmental Synthesis Center “Pursuit” on Africa’s Vulture Crisis. They have coauthored peer-reviewed journal articles and conference presentations together.
John Davies co-ordinates collaborative conservation projects on threatened raptors for the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s (EWT) Birds of Prey Programme in South Africa. He leads the EWT’s Poison Response activities in the Lowveld, and has trained local wildlife veterinarians to handle vultures, and to deliver treatment to poisoned raptors. His work aims to minimise the number of mortalities from poisoning in the Lowveld. He works closely with Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, Dullstroom Bird of Prey centre, other local conservation NGOs, and wildlife veterinarians to achieve this aim. He also conducts regular Poison Response Training for field rangers and guides, and he is working to implement the EWT’s Raptor Safe Zone concept in the Lowveld. John co-authored a book on the reptiles of Zambia and Malawi, and he has authored and co-authored various scientific papers on birds. In addition to his work on vultures, John co-managed a study on the breeding ecology and movements of Martial Eagles in the Kruger National Park, and he monitors the breeding of Pel’s Fishing Owls in the Lowveld. He recently co-supervised an MSc student from Germany who studied the movement ecology of vultures. He is a licensed bird ringer, and has an SAVC permit to draw blood from birds, and provincial research and ringing permits. John is highly experienced in trapping and fitting tracking devices to birds of prey, and has excellent working relationships with other conservation NGOs and with reserve ecologists, wardens and nature conservation authorities in South Africa’s Lowveld region.
Alan Gardiner is an African ecologist with 26 years of postdoctoral experience in sustainable utilization of natural resources, community based natural resource use and environmental impact studies. He has published on a range of African conservation and development, applied ecology, sustainable development, community-based anti-poaching efforts and land use change. Drs. Gore and Gardiner have collaborated on community-based wildlife trafficking research in Mnisi Tribal Authority lands in South Africa and SAWC has hosted Dr. Gore at the Mozambique campus to scope wildlife trafficking data science and operations.
Peter Hamming is a conservationist with a background in guiding, project management, data collection and reporting, technology in conservation, eco-tourism, resource conservation biology, game capture, and bird research. He has a Btech in Eco-Tourism management from the Tshwane University of Technology and a Msc in Resource Conservation Biology from WITS. As a guide he has been active in activities ranging from environmental education, training of tertiary students in South African conservation, bushwalks in Kruger National Park, game capture, and general site seeing over the last 14 years. Current activities focus on spatial technology, data capture, student mentoring, biological surveys, and training. He is involved in various projects increasing protected area managers’ efficiency through the applied use of software, and assets. He has developed a framework for the online training of SMART conservation software and implemented the software in various sites. The activities and project over the last 18 years has given him working exposure to land management, education, and field research in America, Europa, Africa, and Arabia. As an experienced bird ringer, he has assisted in projects in the lowveld, Mpumalanga, and with the US Forest Service in Oregon. He has an interest in bird research, education, and the applied use of technology in conservation.
Henriette van Heerden
Henriette van Heerden is an international expert on zoonotic bacterial diseases in southern Africa (including KNP), their epidemiology, genetic diversity and vaccine development. She has more than 15 years of experience conducting research on and teaching in the field of veterinary microbiology involving controlled diseases in risk group 2 and 3 microorganisms. Her research improves the understanding, detection and control of anthrax and brucellosis in wildlife and livestock using multidisciplinary approaches including bacteriology, immunology, ecology, epidemiology and molecular biology characterization, as well as anthrax vaccine development. She is familiar with appropriate ethics, biosafety applications and procedures involved with risk group 3 microorganisms through current and past anthrax research projects with African, European and U.S. collaborators. She has collaborated with Mr. Botha and state agencies for many years on topics associated with vulture conservation, illegal trade, and anthrax.
Annette Hübschle is a research scholar at UCT advancing conservation crime science and economic sociology on illegal markets in Southern Africa and around the world. She is a senior research fellow in the Global Risk Governance programme in the Public Law Department at the University of Cape Town. She is responsible for the Global Risk Governance programme’s Environmental and Planetary Futures research group. Her research group is currently conducting research on illegal flows of collectable wildlife (the TRANSFORM project: a five-year project funded by the European Research Council), COVID-19 impacts on the wildlife economy of southern Africa (USAID Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) grant) and design principles for pragmatic conservation. Over the past 25 years she has led, conducted and published research on a variety of organized crime and terrorist financing topics in Africa. Her expertise on the governance of safety and security with a specific focus on illegal wildlife economies and environmental futures, as well as the interface between licit and illicit economies and criminal networks is widely cited. She specializes in data collection and qualitative interviewing in marginalized and/or difficult to reach communities on sensitive research topics. Dr. Hübschle and Dr. Gore have served as curriculum review panelists for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s Education 4 Justice tertiary education module on wildlife crime and co-authored publications with Mr. Botha.
Wolfgang Preiser is Professor and Head of the Division of Medical Virology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Stellenbosch / National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) Tygerberg. He specialised as medical virologist in his hometown Frankfurt, Germany, and at University College London and received his second doctoral degree (Habilitation) in 2005 while working as consultant virologist in Frankfurt. He was member of the German group among the first globally to identify the novel coronavirus causing the SARS outbreak in 2003 and subsequently served as an advisor to WHO in China. His principal research interests cover three broad themes: improving and advancing diagnostic virology, with emphasis on, but not limited to, HIV infection and antiretroviral drug resistance; the epidemiology, diagnosis, and monitoring of opportunistic viral infections, esp. hepatitis B and cytomegalovirus, in immunocompromised patients; and emerging and potentially zoonotic viral diseases. The latter includes identifying hepatitis E virus as a significant health problem in South Africa and studying its epidemiological patterns, and performing research on different types of viruses in small mammals (rodents, shrews and bats) from Southern Africa. This work has identified several novel corona-, paramyxo- and astroviruses, most notably a beta-coronavirus closely related to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus in South African bats, and a henipa-like virus in a South African shrew species.
Veterinarian, entrepreneur and scientist engaged in wildlife health and conservation. After many years establishing and leading Wild Spirit, an international wildlife veterinary medicine training program in South Africa, Dr Quesada decided to take a further step towards wildlife conservation by establishing the Wild Spirit Fund. Wild Spirit Fund is a non-profit foundation with pillars on Conservation Medicine and One Health. Our mission is to ensure the health and protection of wildlife in its natural ecosystem. Our actions focus on wildlife veterinary medicine and wildlife health research capacity-building projects across Africa.
Fabiola is currently researching for her PhD. Her commitment to increasing the global wildlife network extends to scientific diplomacy; she is the Vice President of the Society of Spanish Researchers in Southern Africa.
Gareth completed his PhD in Biological Sciences at the Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology at the University of Cape Town in 2016. The skills and experience Gareth gained from his PhD, such as the spatial analysis of movement data, species-focused behavioral studies, population genetics, disease, and raptor ecology, are directly transferable to conservation issues. Gareth has over ten years of conservation experience, as a postgraduate student and working in the conservation sector, with much of his work centered on using birds as keys to biodiversity conservation. Gareth joined the Endangered Wildlife Trust in 2016, where he has managed the Birds of Prey Programme ever since. The programme actions strategic research and field-based conservation projects for a wide range of threatened nocturnal and diurnal birds of prey throughout southern Africa to protect and recover populations and improve their overall conservation status. The programme identifies and addresses key conservation threats to threatened species, and their critical habitats, through a combination of practical effectiveness, partnerships, social work, legislative support and robust science – strengthening the efficiency of the regional birds of prey conservation network. His roles include the overarching management of all programme staff and projects, including coordination of conservation and research activities, and fundraising. Gareth is currently a research associate at the Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology and sits on a variety of National task forces in South Africa, including the National Vulture task Force.
Dr Lindy Thompson co-ordinates collaborative research and conservation projects on vultures for the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Birds of Prey Programme in South Africa‘s Lowveld region. She aims to mitigate threats to vultures through the implementation of Vulture Safe Zones, monitoring vulture breeding activity, and delivering Poison Response Training. Lindy is a member of the IUCN SSC Vulture Specialist Group, and South Africa’s National Vulture Task Force, Lead Task Team, and National Wildlife Poisoning Prevention Working Group. She works with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment and various other stakeholders to draft a National Vulture BMP. She collaborates with researchers and conservationists from the Universities of Pretoria and KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa), the University of Maryland (USA), and Hawk Mountain Sanctuary (USA). Lindy did her postdoctoral research on Critically Endangered Hooded Vultures. She is now a Y-rated researcher with South Africa’s National Research Foundation, and is currently co-supervising four postgraduate students with their studies on African vultures. She is a licensed bird ringer, and has an SAVC permit to draw blood from birds, provincial research and ringing permits, and a Section 20 permit to take samples from birds for research purposes. She is experienced in trapping and fitting tracking devices to birds of prey, and has good working relationships with other conservation NGOs and with reserve ecologists, wardens and nature conservation authorities in South Africa’s Lowveld region.
Vivienne L. Williams
Dr Vivienne Williams is a freelance academic and Senior Visiting Researcher based at the University of the Witwatersrand specializing in applied interdisciplinary research (since 1992) on illegal wildlife trade, primarily through monitoring and inventorying informal markets in Southern Africa (South Africa, Mozambique, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi) and China, and encompassing the biological and social sciences. She holds a C1 NRF rating as a researcher in South Africa, and has significant expertise in (i) the traditional medicine trade (flora and fauna), and (ii) the lion bone trade between South Africa and Asia, and the captive lion industry. She also has expertise in the pan-African trade in selected carnivore and avian taxa for cultural purposes, resource monitoring, threatened species, microbial contamination, and DNA forensics and the trade in large carnivores and pangolins. Vivienne works with academic and government institutions, law enforcement, and conservation NGOs, and is a member of four IUCN SSC specialist groups (Medicinal Plants; Hornbills; South African Plants; Sustainable Use subgroup). Her research is embedded in the commitment to amplifying the African voice with respect to wildlife trade and cultural practices.
In the United States
A. Alonso Aguirre
A. Alonso Aguirre is a leader on One Health approaches to understand wildlife diseases and their links to human health. His leadership in interdisciplinary teams such as the USAID Emerging Pandemic Threats PREDICT has supported innovative policy and practice for more effective conservation and security. The USDA, USFWS, NSF, and NPS have funded his work at the intersection of illegal wildlife trade and zoonotic diseases. He currently is Dean of the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University, Fort Collins, and advises governments on health and ecological issues linked to anthropogenic change. He has published extensively on infectious diseases of wildlife diseases, conservation, some with project team members. Drs. Aguirre and Gore have published a peer-reviewed publication together and Dr. Aguirre serves on the expert committee of Dr. Gore’s NSF grant on Network Exploring Wildlife Trade.
Kevin M. Curtin
Kevin M. Curtin is an expert in the field of Geographic Information Science with specializations in location science, transportation and logistics, spatial movement behavior, spatial statistics, and network GIS. Application areas for research include autonomous vehicle logistics, transportation geography, crime studies, health and nutrition, geospatial intelligence, and illicit supply networks. He is an international researcher with research experience in Thailand and the greater Mekong region, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Trinidad, and Colombia. Funding from the Office of Naval Research, the Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences, and the NSF is supporting students and faculty in his lab. He has advanced how the practice of location science brings together the tools of spatial analytics and methods of operations research to model and solve location-based problems that neither discipline could address in isolation.
Juan Martín Dabezies
Juan Martin Dabezies is an anthropologist specializing in the interdisciplinary study of human-animal relationships. His work focuses on conservation, biosecurity, traditional environmental knowledge, and heritage processes, connecting academia, policymakers, and civil society. He has experience in the UK, Europe, and several Latin American countries. He is currently an adjunct professor at the University of the Republic of Uruguay, where he leads the Interdisciplinary Group in the Study of Relationships Between Humans and Other Animals, where different social and natural disciplines converge. He is a member of the National System of Researchers of Uruguay and IPBES Lead Author.
Chris Fohringer is a wildlife biologist specialized on linking biotelemetry data of animals with an array of biomolecular and social-ecological approaches to investigate the cumulative impacts of anthropogenic pressures on wide-ranging species. They are highly experienced in conducting fieldwork in extreme environments as well as running labwork, including DNA-extraction, running qPCR and several omics approaches. Using geospatial software as well as running spatiotemporal models based on GPS-based animal movements are among their key skills. They received their PhD education at the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies, SLU, Umeå. Since 2023, Chris has been employed as a postdoctoral associate at UMD, working as a lead on socio-environmental systems for vulture trafficking in South Africa and Mozambique. Within TREPA, they are leading the Animal Subject’s subgroup of the project. They are also engaged in charity work for the ALDER network of the British Ecological Society, supporting LGBTQIA+ ecologists, in particular on fieldwork-related topics.
Meredith L. Gore
Meredith Gore has more than 25 years of experience conducting applied, extramurally-funded research on and teaching about the interdisciplinary field of conservation crime. Her research focuses on wildlife trafficking, illegal fishing and logging, community-based conservation and science diplomacy; she has over 160 scholarly products on these topics. She has experience leading diverse research teams on illicit wildlife supply networks in Sub-Saharan Africa and has provided technical assistance to both the U.S. DoS and the African Union on combating wildlife trafficking in Africa. Her social science work on bovine tuberculosis has informed changes in state wildlife agency policies toward disease management. She has extensive experience conducting participatory mapping on wildlife trafficking, and illegal logging across Africa and Southeast Asia and has been trained in field safety protocols, including U.S. DoS’s Diplomatic Security Service Foreign Affairs Security Training.
Matt Kammer - Kerwick
Matt Kammer-Kerwick, PhD, is a Senior Research Scientist at the Bureau of Business Research at the IC2 Institute, a Research Affiliate of the Population Research Center, and a Lecturer in the Human Dimensions of Organizations program, all at The University of Texas at Austin. He is the principal investigator of the study Collaborative Research: Disrupting Exploitation and Trafficking in Labor Supply Networks: Convergence of Behavioral and Decision Science to Design Interventions (NSF 2039983), which is exploring the use of stochastic multi-actor network models, reinforcement learning algorithms, and agent-based models to assess and develop disruptive interventions for labor exploitation and trafficking. He is also the UT Austin principal investigator of Reducing Security Risks from the Intersectionality of Wildlife Trafficking and Biosafety from Zoonotic Pathogens in Africa’s Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area funded by DTRA BTRP led by UMD PI Meredith Gore. He is an investigator on the IC2 Wellbeing Economy research program. He is also an investigator on Good Systems: A UT Grand Challenge as part of the AI and the Future of Racial Justice Project, led by PI Craig Watkins. He is a co-principal investigator on projects with the Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault (IDVSA) in the Steve Hicks School of Social Work. Prior to his role at the IC2 Institute, he was a research consultant to industry for over 20 years and was President and Founder of Visionary Research, Inc. He has a PhD in Management Science and Information Systems from The University of Texas at Austin and degrees in Physics and Systems Engineering.
Natalia Muñoz Cassolis
Natalia Muñoz Cassolis is a Faculty Specialist at the Geographical Sciences Department of the University of Maryland. She is currently in charge of TREPA’s project management and assisting Dr. Gore with other research projects. Ms. Muñoz Cassolis is a lawyer admitted to practice law in Colombia and Paris, and holds an LL.M in European Law and an MSc in Conservation and International Wildlife Trade. Before joining the University of Maryland, Ms. Muñoz Cassolis worked as a legal advisor for some of the major Colombian law firms, as a liaison officer with Congress for the Ministry of Commerce of Colombia, as a policy and legal officer for a Colombian CITES scientific authority, and as an international consultant for WWF. She has focused her conservation work on studying the links between the illegal wildlife trade, organized crime, and corruption.
Julie A. Silva’s research and teaching specializations are Economic and Development Geography, with a regional expertise in Sub-Saharan Africa. Her central research theme focuses on poverty and inequality, while also examining the important linkages between global economic and environmental processes of change. Her broader scientific goal is to expand our existing knowledge of economic, social, and environmental processes that perpetuate poverty and lead to growing income and power disparities between people and between places. Her work offers important new insights for changing the development trajectory in less-studied, remote rural regions that are rapidly integrating into the cash economy and are on the front lines of climate change. As her research on the socio-economic drivers of poverty and inequality has evolved, she has increasingly sought opportunities to collaborate with international and US-based earth scientists interested in extreme weather, climate change, and land use/land cover change. Dr. Silva has published in a wide variety of multidisciplinary journals, including Nature Sustainability, PNAS, and Global Environmental Change. Her research has been supported by a variety of federal grants, including, as Principal Investigator (PI), a National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award and a NASA Equity and Environmental Justice Award.
Barb Wolfe, DVM, PhD, DACZM is a wildlife veterinarian and researcher with over 30 years of experience in conservation, research, and training in wildlife health and One Health. Her work has ranged from clinical pathology of bivalves to assisted reproduction in elephants and assessment of chronic stress in nonhuman primates, and has taken her to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, China, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Ecuador, and Costa Rica. She has led the development of 3 zoological medicine veterinary residency training programs, trained over 35 residents and graduate students at 3 universities, and produced over 140 scholarly products. Her primary research interest is in the assessment of chronic stress and its impact on health and reproduction in wildlife. She is currently an Associate Professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and Affiliate Faculty in the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University.