Niassa Carnivore Project / Mariri
Although our African team started small founded by Keith and Colleen, with two employees Oscar and Jomba from Niassa Reserve, it now comprises over one hundred Mozambicans, 85% from local villages inside Niassa Special Reserve. We also have 80-200 local seasonal workers, from June to November, who assist in conservation services and construction and more than 40 community guardians that are part of our local citizen science and outreach program (MOMS).
Agostinho Jorge / Conservation Director
Agostinho, has worked In Niassa Special Reserve since 2008, joining NCP as their conservation manager in 2012. In 2010, Agostinho obtained his MSc in South Africa through his work on leopards and is currently completing his PhD on bushmeat trade. He also took part in the two-year program in the United States for Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders (EWCL). Agostinho leads all NCP conservation monitoring programs, surveys, and efforts to reduce bushmeat snaring and the illegal wildlife trade with particular expertise in SMART monitoring, camera trapping and the lion trade. He plays a major leadership and mentorship role for our team and has been involved in building up the confidence, leadership and management skills of many on our team. Agostinho cares deeply about people and carnivores and making a contribution to his country and is determined to make a long-lasting difference to people’s lives through conservation.
Colleen Begg (PhD) Managing Director
Colleen Begg, a South African conservation ecologist, has more than 30 years’ experience in field conservation action, community partnerships, and conservation leadership in Africa. She is passionate about and deeply committed to securing African wilderness areas, with a focus on carnivores by inspiring conservation actions that are inclusive, transparent, collaborative, effective and include communities who live in these areas. She is a well published scientist, writer and photographer. She obtained her PhD in zoology on the first in depth study of the honey badger which led to the Badger Friendly Initiative in South Africa to reduce conflict with beekeepers. For the past 18 years she has co-led the Niassa Carnivore Project spending at least 8 months a year in the field with Keith and their two children. She plays a critical role of integrating all of the different programs and ensuring they fit within NCPs vison, mission, objectives and values with a particular focus on developing the community conservation partnership. She is also largely responsible for the fundraising. In 2018 she was selected for Homeward Bound, an international, transformational, strategic leadership initiative which aims to create a global network of 1000 women with STEMM backgrounds with skills to lead, influence and contribute to policy and decision making as it informs the future of our planet. She went to Antarctica with 80 other global women scientists and leaders as part of this initiative in January 2019. She is also permanent member of the granting committee of Wildlife Conservation Network’s the Lion Recovery Fund which aims to stop the loss of lions across Africa and a co-founder of Pride Lion Conservation Alliance. In 2020, she co-founded WE Africa (womenforenvironment.org) a leadership experience for African women leaders working in the environmental space Through all these strands Colleen continues to be inspired to do conservation differently aligned with her strong values of collaboration, gender equity, social justice, fairness and purpose.
Keith Begg / Operations Director
Keith has worked in field based conservation for the past 30 years with a solid grounding provided by a diploma in Nature Conservation. He spent three years doing research in South Africa’s Kruger National Park on the ‘Big Six’ birds (Saddlebilled Stork, Pels Fishing Owl, Lappet-faced Vulture, Kori Bustard, Ground Hornbill and Martial Eagle) before moving to Mana Pools, Zimbabwe to initiate the first study of honey badgers. In the Kalahari, he and Colleen completed the first in-depth study of the species with the combined outputs of a National Geographic documentary and article. Keith led the innovative and successful conservation program to reduce the killing of honey badgers by commercial beekeepers through extension work and using economic incentives ‘Honey Badger Friendly Honey Campaign’. A snippet of Keith and Colleen’s film on honey badgers (Snake Killers – Honeybadger of the Kalahari) made during this period was dubbed by Randall Moore and became the ‘The Crazy Nasty Ass Honey Badger’ YouTube viral video and internet meme that has reached 77 million views. Keith has authored many scientific papers and is an award-winning cinematographer who has completed three full length documentaries: Snake, Badger Quest and Spirit Creatures. His film the The Honey Hunters of Niassa (Off The Fence, 2008), won the award for best ‘Animal Behaviour’ (Japan Wildlife Film Festival) and was a finalist for best ‘Human – Wildlife Interaction’ and ‘Independent Film’ at Missoula’s International Wildlife Film Festival. In 2003, Keith founded the Niassa Carnivore Project in 2003 with Colleen. In the field for 8 months of the year, and as NCPs Operations Director and pilot Keith is instrumental in maintaining and leading the antipoaching, ecotourism development, collaring and logistics programs as well as providing expert leadership on practical community based conservation.
Andrew Mkanage / General Manager
As General Manager Andrew brings his love of people and skills with leadership and organization to his position as General manager finding ways to help our team thrive while dealing with operational details. He is currently part of EWCL (Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders) leadership program, and completing his Masters Degree in Environmental Management. Andrew brings his expertise as a local teacher with a deep love for conservation, people and the environment to the NCP programs. While teaching in Mecula (a village inside Niassa Reserve) Andrew established the first wildlife club in Niassa Reserve and he asked Colleen and Keith and the Niassa Lion project to be the patrons. He joined the NCP team officially in 2015 as their Education Manager after finished his degree and was tasked with establishing the Mariri Environmental Centre. He has been an integral part of developing the Mariri Environmental Centre and building an education team and they now run a range of programs ranging from wildlife clubs, girls clubs, the lion scholarship program bushvisits, outreach campaigns and conservation workshops for people who live inside Niassa Reserve. Wherever Andrew goes, he finds children to interact with and inspire and he somehow manages to make conservation relevant to the people who live with wildlife. As the senior manager on our team he also plays a critical role in building up the leadership capacity of our team and inspiring them to lean into positions of responsibility while remembering our goals. He is excellent at collaboration and an important link between our team and other teams in Niassa Reserve that do similar outreach and education work and works hard to make sure that we are all communicating effectively.
Benvindo Napuanha / Community Manager
Benvindo came to us from Lurio University, initially as a student. He then worked with Agostinho to collect data and do surveys on the bushmeat trade and consumption before being hired as part of our community team in 2017. In 2019 he took over the position of Community Manager. He has a particular focus and skills in developing alternative livelihoods for households including agroforestry, conservation agriculture, beekeeping, and small livestock breeding. He is looking at ways to increase productivity in the fields as well as reclaim land that has been abandoned when it becomes infertile. Benvindo with his team of Bosco, Raimundo, Alberto and Maico are also instrumental in managing our conservation partnership agreement with Mbamba Village to manage and protected 58 000 hectares inside Niassa Reserve. Since all of our work involved the people who live inside Niassa Reserve, Benvindo’s quiet peacebuilding and consensus building skills are invaluable for us as a team. In 2017, he visited Gorongosa National Park to spend time with the Gorongosa Lion Project and to learn more about strategic thinking through a workshop organized by USAID Mozambique. In 2020, Benvindo visited Mozambique’s most successful community beekeeping business at Catapu in Sofala District and has brought all his skills back to our programs.
Lurdes Azarias Massingue / Camp and Tourism Manager
As camp and tourism manager, Lurdes plans and manages the camp logistics and ensures that the camp is always in good condition for employees and visitors. She strives to ensure that all visitors to the environmental center have a memorable stay. She also organizes the annual leave and any additional days off that the employees may require, ensuring that every month everyone has received their salaries and if necessary, matches requests from other Companies or individuals.
Lurdes plans and organizes the itinerary of all visitors to Mpopo during their stay as well as managing the calendar.
‘I am proud to be making my contribution to conservation and to live in a conservation area and help inspire other women. Respect, love for others, and inclusion are very important values to me’
For the first time Lurdes has had the opportunity to plan, organize and manage Mpopo visits and gain additional knowledge in human resources and finance.
‘I believe in a more inclusive conservation, where men as well as women can give their effort and contribution. My goal is to contribute with my work in the conservation to our flora and fauna, especially at REN.’
Lurdes has a Degree in Forestry from ISPM (Instituto Superior de Manica)
Horacio Maurico / MOMS Community Guardians Manager
Horácio is the coordinator of the MOMS community guardian program which is our longest running community program (since 2006) and active in more than 40 villages across Niassa Reserve. It forms a critical bridge between communities, natural resource use and conservation. Horacio was born in the Mandimba district of Niassa Province and completed his secondary school in Lichinga. He completed his studies at the Instituto Médio de Fauna e Ecoturismo of Marrupa in 2013 before joining NCP in 2014 to lead and further develop the MOMS program. Under his care and with the Head Guardian, Celestino Daude from Macalange Village, this program is now active in more than 90% of the villages inside Niassa Reserve. Horacio is currently completing his degree in Environmental Management through distance learning at the Instituto Superior de Ciências e Educação a Distância (ISCED). He will also be instrumental in implementing our new camera trapping conservation performance program. He is passionate about conservation, where he can care for and guard the environment whilst at the same time learning every day from the people who live so closely to nature inside Niassa Reserve. In 2017 he visited Ruaha Carnivore Project and Ruaha National Park to learn more about its wildlife guardian program and human lion conflict and in 2018, he visited The Gorongosa Lion Project and Gorongosa National Park to learn more about strategy and conservation. He is very organized and disciplined, and each month manages to input all the 1000s of datapoints collected into a digital database so that it can be used by managers across NSR.
Ludencia da Silva Joao / Education Manager
Ludencia manages all environmental education and activity programs. She has completed studies in leadership, creative training, and tour guide operations. Ludencia’s focus is to help create a change in behaviors regarding environmental problems, streamlining solutions to create a healthy co-existence for both people and animals within the Niassa Reserve. Her hope is to see the Niassa Reserve population implementing practices that promote co-existence and biodiversity in the next 5 years. Her most important values are respect, inclusion, and communication. Among her achievements are leading a team for the first time in the vaccination work in 2021. She is proud to be a woman, working in the field of conservation.
‘’I am a simple and open person, I remain determined to continue.”
Quitéria Lourenço Muarapaz / SMART and Monitoring Manager
Quitéria was born in Nampula Province, northern Mozambique. She joined the Niassa Carnivore Project team in April 2019. Her current position at NCP is SMART and Monitoring Manager. In this position she works with SMART (database and report production) and EarthRanger that is a real time monitor for lions and elephants with collars throughout the Niassa Reserve, monitor patrol teams, vehicles and vultures. Quitéria works in the NCP’s operating room with Chabana and in collaboration with the supervisory heads where they plan the inspection activities. Quitéria also monitors the expansion of machambas in the village of Mbamba.
She has a degree in Forestry Engineering from Universidade Lúrio and in Agriculture from Instituto Agrário de Lichinga.
Quitéria is passionate about nature and her goal is to actively contribute to the wider world of conservation in the world, in Africa, in Mozambique and especially in the Niassa Special Reserve through the work she does. Her greatest desire is to become a source of inspiration for other women as few women have the courage to work in conservation areas, showing that it is possible and that we can make a difference by making our contribution.
“I am very proud to be part of the NCP team which is the largest Carnivore organization in Mozambique. I joined this team when I was still a small seed, and today I feel like a tree capable of bearing fruit, as I work with the SMART Program, Earthranger and others. I have supported with the technical training of members of other conservation organizations within and outside the reserve who intend to implement SMART in their areas.”
“I am a worker, daughter, wife, friend, and an open person who enjoys meeting new people, having new experiences, always learning.”
Antonio Chabana / Conservation Manager and Pilot
Chabana’s main role is to coordinate activities in Law enforcement with the chief scout, using SMART technology for data collection, updating the database and using EarthRanger daily. Each year a fishing survey is done to monitor the dynamics of fish (species and size), the fishing camps (license, techniques used) and aerial patrols. In addition to this Chabana helps with monitoring the collared lions and their movements cross Niassa Reserve.
Chabana studied Ecology and Conservation of Terrestrial Biodiversity at Eduardo Mondlane Biodiversity.
“I believe in a world where conservation and development are in synergy and both parties win without causing harm to each other. Greater inclusion and participatory management of communities that directly depend on natural resources. As human beings we all have values that each one carries as part of their identity (respect and humility) but the moment I joined the NCP, these values gained more life and were added to more values that currently identify me as part of the institution. The search for experience in the conservation area (associated with a job in the same area) were the main reasons that made me join NCP and currently a strong connection has been created with the institution and all the team that is part of it.”
According to Chabana’s, his most impressive achievements are being part of the NCP, being a pilot and having a new family.
“I am normal person; I am a son, a brother, and a father. I am curious and I like to learn and be taught. I believe that nothing is impossible if we have the willpower to achieve a certain goal.”
Bento Amine / Head of Antipoaching
Bento Daniel Amine is Mariri’s head field ranger and was born in 1990 in the Niassa Special Reserve at M’sawise village. After completing high school at Namarrupi – Marrupa school just south of the reserve he went on to complete a course in human resources before being selected at a Mariri scout in August 2016.
Bento soon demonstrated his leadership skills during patrols and excelled in basic training programs provided by Conservation Outcomes at the Mariri headquarters. In early 2018 he was chosen to participate in a patrol leaders course at the Niassa Reserve headquarters (hosted by ANAC and the Wildlife Conservation Society) where he passed with top results and in March 2020 he was awarded the position of head field ranger.
In 2021 Bento had the special opportunity to visit the law enforcement programs in the Maputo Special Reserve and Gorongosa National Park and continues to work closely with Agostinho, Chabana and Quiteria in training and sending out patrols across the Mariri concession each week.
“I am a family man and I hope that in the near future the younger generation will look to me as an example to follow.”
TRT Conservation Foundation
Ashleigh Lee / Executive Assistant of TRT Conservation Foundation
Ashleigh’s background is in graphic design and in the last three years she has used her artistic, design and administration skills for conservation efforts as the full-time executive assistant for TRT Conservation Foundation, the Niassa Carnivore Project and WE Africa. Ashleigh is a lifelong animal lover and animal welfare advocate. She lives in a small village in South Africa with her four cats and a dog.