Lana was born in South Africa and from an early age travelled with her family extensively across the continent. As a result, she developed a keen interest in wildlife and in particular a passion for predators.
Inspired by her experiences Lana followed her dream, which was one day to work with big cats in the African bush. She obtained a BSc degree in Conservation Ecology at Stellenbosch University and subsequently decided to spread her wings and continue her studies at Leiden University in The Netherlands, the main motivation being their lion research projects in Cameroon and Kenya.
Her first project involved conducting research on lion-livestock conflict in Waza National Park in northern Cameroon, evaluating the effect of moon phase and seasons on livestock predation by lions with the aim of identifying “high risk” periods. This knowledge would motivate the pastoralist community to adopt new husbandry strategies and as a result reduce the incidence of predator conflict, and the retaliatory killing of lions.
Lana’s next project took her to the Amboseli and Tsavo National Parks, where she explored the genetic variation of lion populations in southern Kenya.
After successfully completing her MSc incorporating both of these initiatives, Lana packed up her life in The Netherlands and returned to South Africa where she started an overland trip from Cape Town to Kenya, looking to contribute positively to the conservation of large predators. Lana soon found herself an opportunity to work as a volunteer with the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust (MWCT). The MWCT’s efforts focus on working with Maasai communities traversing the landscapes of Kenya’s Chyulu Hills, within the world-famous Amboseli-Tsavo Ecosystem. After just 3 months Lana was appointed permanently as Conservation Manager to oversee the various conservation programmes. These included the training of community rangers, wildlife monitoring, running a predator compensation programme, developing environmental education and managing the Kuku lion project. As Conservation Manager at MWCT Lana lived out her childhood dream for almost 4 years; during which time she made friends and earned the respect of not only the local Maasai but also like-minded international conservationists.
Lana returned to South Africa at the beginning of 2015 as Area Manager for Human Wildlife Solutions, the organisation tasked with monitoring human-baboon conflict in the Cape Peninsula. However, she soon realized that Africa’s cats remain her passion, joining The Cape Leopard Trust in November.
Lana is confident that with her knowledge of human-wildlife conflict and expertise in community-based conservation, combined with her local farm upbringing and insights, she is well placed to make a valuable contribution to the Trust and its stakeholders. Her existing links with MWCT and numerous collaborations will complement efforts to protect both leopards, and the rich biodiversity of the Cape Cederberg mountains and beyond.