Our Team

Elena with Muza in Moscow Zoo


Dr. Elena Chelysheva is Russian zool­o­gist with broad knowl­edge of cap­tive and wild chee­tah ecol­ogy and behav­ior and over 30 years of expe­ri­ence. Former super­vi­sor of Carnivore Department of Moscow Zoo Conservation Center (Russia) she worked with in dif­fer­ent insti­tu­tions includ­ing: Moscow zoo (Russia), pri­vate zoo (UAE), Gilman Foundation White Oak Conservation Centre (USA).

In 1999–2000 she was full-time vol­un­teer at the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia. At CCF, Elena’s activities included: participation in production of the 1998 International Cheetah Studbook; counting wild game; daily husbandry of short-term wild and non-releasable animals (cheetahs, leopard); research on controlled taste aversion program in leopard; transport and medical procedures on wild leopard, cheetah including skin biopsy, blood sampling and preparation; tagging and transpondering; radio-tracking cheetahs; research and writing for the Cheetah Husbandry Manual and Education Centre and Cheetah Museum panels).









Cheetah release in 1999 at CCF (left) and artworks made for the Education Center at CCF, Namibia 2000 (right)

In 2001–2002, Elena worked with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Masai Mara Cheetah Conservation Project in the Mara region, which included Maasai-Mara National Reserve and adjacent areas (Koyiaki, Lemek, Ol Kinyei, Siana and Maji Moto group ranches). At that time, she developed an orig­i­nal method of chee­tah identification.

Looking for cheetah

Working as Assistant Researcher at Maasai-Mara Cheetah Conservation Project (Maasai-Mara National Reserve 2001)

In 2008 Elena obtained her PhD from Russian State Agrarian Correspondence University after com­plet­ing the­sis on chee­tah con­ser­va­tion and social behav­ior of captive chee­tahs and impli­ca­tions of social struc­ture of wild chee­tahs.

Art lesson for kids-Kenya 127







Art and conservation lesson at the Kenyan school, 2003

Presentation on the discoveries at the Annual KWS Carnivore Conference, 2011



Mandere Mandela Salim

Salim Mandela is a 28 year-old Kenyan who graduated from the University of Nairobi with a Bachelor’s Degree in Wildlife Management and Conservation.

During his time at university, Mandela completed 2.5 months of field training at Lisa Ranch.  Upon conclusion of this assignment, Mandela completed a project under the supervision of Mr. Michail Mbithi, Lisa Ranch Manager, and Dr. Eddy Mogoa, Lecturer and Head of the Clinical Department, University of Nairobi, on the contributions of private ranches in wildlife management and conservation.  Mandela received top marks for this project. Mandela also completed a game scout training program in Nanyuki conducted by The African Fund for Endangered Species.  Mandela was elected as the Organizing Secretary of the Wildlife Students Association.

Since graduation, Mandela successfully completed a 3.5 month assignment as a Research Assistant involved in a camera trap project. Mandela participated in camera trap set-up, and data analysis, scat identification and collection, game counts (night and day), community conservation education and conflict management. Mandela is also an avid sportsman with a flair for ping-pong.


End of the day, Mara 2012 (Photo by E.Chelysheva)


John Ole Masek. John has over 8-year experience in assisting wildlife projects and tour guiding. His excellent knowledge of the Mara together with his strong communication and interpersonal skills made a significant contribution to our team.

JOHN interw







Our special thanks go to the experienced Mara Driver-Guides: Rollex Ole Tome (Ashnil Mara Camp); Peter Koileken (Mara Simba Lodge); Samuel Ruto, William Rotiken, Jackson Naurori, Peter Chebon and Damson (Melting Pot Safari Camp), Bernard Kashu, Philip Nzuve, Segerger and Moses (Governor’s), Paul and Peter (Fig Tree), Sammy(Ilmoran), Dennis and Joseph Kang’ethe (Intrepids), Francis Kuria, Joseph Loosaiyagig and James Tinhisha (Keekorok Lodge), Benard Naurori (Mara Leasure), John Temut (Oloshaiki), Anthony Kasura, Ken and William (Mara Sarova), who help us to operatively find cheetahs in different parts of the Reserve.

We also express our deep gratitude to: Peter Carpenter (Bushtops), Titus Kyalo (Pollman’s) and Romadhani Hussein (Liberty Tours & Safaris) who helped us to find an injured male Imara and also shared their photos for identification. Thanks to your passion for cheetahs and patience at the cheetah site, KWS team could successfully treat the male.