Fauna Forever Staff
Dr. Chris Kirkby, Co-Founder and Co-Director at Fauna Forever
The muddy waters of the Tambopata river run in Chris’ bloodstream. His primary focus is intimately related to the ongoing challenge of conserving wild nature in the environment where he feels most at ease, the Peruvian rainforest.
A graduate of the University of East Anglia (PhD, 2012), University of York (MRes, 2001), and University of Edinburgh (BSc, 1994), Chris has been actively pursuing pure and applied research and conservation agendas in the Peruvian Amazon since 1995. Having initially cut his teeth working as a resident naturalist tour guide at one of the many ecotourist lodges in the Tambopata area, around the jungle-gateway city of Puerto Maldonado, he went on to lead expeditions into the heart of what is now the Bahuaja Sonene National Park (BSNP), to channel funding through a UK-based charity to support environmental and community-led projects in Tambopata, to teach up-and-coming tour guides from Puerto Maldonado, and to consult for a variety of companies and organizations, including the Amazon Conservation Association, CITES, GeoMission, Oxford Analytica, Peruvian Safaris, Pro-Manu, Rainforest Expeditions, Verde Ventures, and WWF.
His areas of expertise include environmental monitoring, ecosystem services, ecotourism, mammals, dung-beetles, botany, and teaching. He has published articles on Tambopata’s ecotourism industry, the economic value of Tambopata’s intact forests, integrating ecosystem services and economic theory, and modeling deforestation, as well as authoring book sections and manuals on ecosystem services and wildlife monitoring – most with an emphasis on the Madre de Dios region of Amazonian Peru.
In 1997, and in reply to a plea from the local protected areas’ representative for information about potential tourism impacts on wildlife in Tambopata, Chris partnered with a group of Peruvian, British and North American biologists to establish what is now the Fauna Forever Tambopata project, the Fauna Forever-Tambopata National Reserve Volunteer Program (FF-TNR Volunteer Progam), and the Asociacion Fauna Forever (AFF) organization itself.
For the last few years, and since 2010 in particular, Chris has led the growth and diversification of AFF, introducing specialized bird banding/ringing workshops (in partnership with the Centre for Ornithology and Biodiversity – CORBIDI) and Amazon rainforest photography workshops (in partnership with Untamed Photography), as well as animal welfare, environmental education and awareness campaigns, and mini-conservation corridor projects, not to mention strengthening ties with local and national organizations across Peru and with universities and conservation groups at the international level.
Apart from everything else, these projects which Chris has developed also allow him and his family to enjoy the natural wonders and peoples of the Peruvian Amazon.
Connect with Sandra:
Sandra Felipa Luna, Co-Founder at Fauna Forever
A qualified journalist from the Jaime Bausate & Mesa School of Journalism in Lima, with an avid interest in communication for development, environmental education, and biodiversity conservation, Sandra has worked for many years in Puerto Maldonado, Tambopata, as a TV reporter, director of radio programs, communications consultant to companies and organizations, including Conservation International, and coordinator of environmental education programs for groups such as GTZ (German aid organization) and the Frankfurt Zoological Society.
More recently she has been the personal assistant to the coordinator of a homestay-tourism project managed by the iSur Consortium, which includes Rainforest Expeditions and the Peruvian Society for Environmental Law (SPDA), and funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), CAF, and Asociacion Odebrecht.
With her attention to detail, strong communication skills, and a liking for balancing the books, Sandra manages the day-to-day financials for Fauna Forever, dispensing funds, paying staff, and dealing with the accountant. Also, like every good mother, she also ensures the Fauna Forever household in Puerto Maldonado runs smoothly, makes sure everyone is well fed and watered (including the Fauna Forever cat – Tigrecito), and encourages volunteers and interns to impart their knowledge whilst they wash the dishes!
She is married to Chris (see above), has one child (Naia), and lives in Puerto Maldonado.
David Johnston, Co-Director at Fauna Forever
David is a naturalist who started life in South Africa where his family encouraged a barefoot lifestyle. He spent his afternoons studying insects, mixing plant potions and climbing trees in his back yard, while his family provided the opportunity to visit wild places such as the Kruger National Park, Tuli Block and rugged Eastern Cape coastline.
Instead of university David opted to spend a decade in London dedicated to gaining a broad perspective and understanding of the inner-workings of the corporate, media and events industries. At 20 he founded a non-profit organisation called loveDJ which raised money and awareness for environmental causes through charity events. He was the former global senior marketing executive for the market research and pharmaceutical market research arms of Aegis Media Group and volunteered at the ZSL London Zoo.
A sustainable business advocate with experience in a variety of sectors, David arrived in Peru in 2009 to begin a rainforest-based career. He began as resident artist at one of the Amazon’s leading research stations, CICRA (Los Amigos). Since then David has been involved in important rainforest conservation initiatives while offering business, marketing and strategy support. He worked on administrative, creative and scientific capacities supporting the efforts of organisations: Amazon Conservation Association (ACA & ACCA), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Asociación para la Investigación y Desarrollo Integral (AIDER), Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS), Rainforest Expeditions Lodges (RFE), Centro para el Desarrollo del Indígena Amazónico (CEDIA), Ecologistica Peru, Untamed Photography (UP), Centro de Ornitologia y Biodiversidad (CORBIDI), and Ecover working closely with conservationists on the ground in and around the Las Piedras watershed, Tambopata National Reserve (TNR), Bahuaja-Sonene National Park (BSNP), Los Amigos Private Conservation Concession and Matsés Indigenous Community.
Brian Crnobrna, Herpetology and Operations at Fauna Forever
Brian Crnobrna (sir-no’-bur-na) began his pursuits in the study of reptiles and amphibians in earnest as a student at The School of Environmental Studies (SES), otherwise known as the Zoo School, an optional high school in Minnesota. SES is built on the grounds of The Minnesota Zoo, making the zoo a second classroom. Every aspect of the curriculum is related to environmental studies in an interdisciplinary fashion, including intensive theme courses that extend the learning process to field studies around the world. Therefore, Brian was herping in Costa Rica and running a survey in Minnesota before he graduated in 2001.
Continued pursuits have seen Brian completing independent research on lizards in Namibian bushveld, courtesy of Round River Conservation Studies, and doing a three-week stint at Reserva Amazonica in Madre de Dios, Peru with a guy named Erik Wild. Before landing this position with Fauna Forever, Brian was working in the field of ecological restoration (prairie stuff), holding down the field crew and helping run the volunteer events of Great River Greening, a Twin Cities based NGO.
Throughout, Brian has worked, either directly or indirectly, with most of the luminaries of non-profit environmental conservation: The Nature Conservancy, The Amazon Conservation Association, The Wildlife Conservation Society, Operation Wallacea, The Save the Rhino Trust, and others. He intends to continue to help make Fauna Forever as luminous as these.
Lucy Dablin, Research at Fauna Forever
After a four month stint in the jungles of Manu Biosphere Reserve studying the blue-headed macaw (Primolius couloni) Lucy returned to England to study Environmental Economics and Environmental Management at the University of York. Unable to resist returning she elected to study the impacts of tourism on a parrot assemblage in Tambopata for her thesis while working as a Resident Naturalist and Assistant Manager of the Explorer’s Inn ecolodge and research station. The day after completing University Lucy was back on a plane again to Puerto Maldonado, this time to join Fauna Forever as the Mammal Team Coordinator. Lucy has been with the the FFT Project since 2011.
With a fine taste for adventure she completed the gruelling, four day, 132 km Nauta to Iquitos raft race in 2010 to raise money for Rainforest Concern. Lucy is authoring The Illustrated Field Guide to the Mammals of Tambopata and developing a collection of wildlife footage; however most of her time is spent writing research proposals, running transects and climbing trees.
Juan Molina, Ornithology at Fauna Forever
Juan went on his first birdwatching field trip at the age of 14. After that experience in high school he decided to study Biology at the Universidad Nacional de San Agustín in Arequipa (Southwest Peru), getting his Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences in 2011. Being an active member in the Natural History Museum of the same University (MUSA) he is knowledgeable in museology and the use of scientific bird collections.
He has participated with many important organizations in the field doing surveys of wildlife with WWF, AIDER, DESCO, and the National Parks Service of Peru. He was also assistant researcher in scientific investigations with multiple international universities; like Princeton on the project “The role of epiphytes in the nutrient and water cycles of desert fog ecosystems”; Columbia on “Effects of oil palm agriculture on bird diversity, abundance, and endemism in the Peruvian Amazon near Pucallpa” (with a note in press); and lately as a two season intern on the project “Golondrinas de las Américas” in POMAC Chiclayo- Peru.
Through Cornell University he was a collaborator in the publication of the first study on the reproductive biology of the Tumbes swallow, a poorly known and endemic species that lives in the Equatorial Dry Forest. As an active birder he has been on both slopes of the Andes from the desert to the Jungle with permanent enthusiasm to see new places and watch birds. Besides that, he started the Spanish blog BIOCROMATICA with Din Heredia (his botanist colleague and close friend) as an easy way to share scientific facts about nature to the general public through photography (http://www.biocromatica-exp.blogspot.com/). With a permanent smile in his face he would like to share with you his permanent good mood.
Alice Poirier, Primatology at Fauna Forever
Alice graduated in 2010 with a Research Master’s in Evolution, Ecology and Conservation Biology from Montpellier University in France. After several internships working in the lab on experimental evolution, she decided to try field work. She arrived in Peru in 2011 and spent six months at Los Amigos research center (CICRA) as a field assistant for the association PrimatesPeru on behaviour and ecology of Callitrichidae. The experience made her realize that there is nothing she wants to work with more than Neotropical primates in the wild!
Alice fell in love with the Amazon and is now living in Puerto Maldonado in the Peruvian Southeastern Amazon. Since 2011 she has participated in numerous projects in the Madre de Dios region with the organizations such as PrimatesPeru and WWF, studying terrestrial mammals, particularly primates and jaguars.
Sofia Prado, Administration and Education Outreach at Fauna Forever
At the age of just 21, Sofi will visit Fauna Forever in 2013 for the fourth year in a row to help with our research and conservation efforts. When not in the jungle Sofi rescues and re-homes homeless dogs in Mexico in her no-kill dog shelter, Huaperros. Her shelter has helped hundreds of canines and people with free spay and neuter campaigns, veterinary care, training tips and over 150 rescues over five years. Sofi’s organisation was chosen as one of 24 in Mexico to become a part of the Pedigree Adoption drive in the nation and received TV appearances, interviews and inclusion in national meetings.
In high school Sofi founded the ‘green club’ and organised an eco-fashion show, recycled Christmas wrapping campaign and changed the Styrofoam plates in the cafeteria to ceramic ones. She enjoys working with children and has had experience in the past teaching English classes, working at a gymnastics camp for girls, running a pilot program for environmental education with Fauna Forever and in her community service activities with children.
She was also invited to participate in a workshop held by the World Society for the Protection of Animals on how to implement humane education. She is very passionate about animal rights, sustainability, rainforest protection and following a cruelty-free lifestyle. She is currently attending the Evergreen State College to pursue a degree in environmental science.
Leo Plunkett, Videography at Fauna Forever
From the media crazed concrete jungle of Bristol Leo first brought his expertise in film making to Fauna Forever in 2011, focusing on investigative documentary making with The Tambopata Story project, and promotional videos. He graduated from University of York with a first in BA Music after disturbing the silence with his media frenzy final project ‘black noise’.
Leo now works from the jungles of Puerto Maldonado, bringing together ethics of conservation and education with film under the guise of Relevant Films.
Ashley Anne Wick, Entomology at Fauna Forever
Ashley found her naturalist and science callings in the tallgrass prairies of Iowa. She graduated from Drake University in 2006 after working with Dr. Keith Summerville on movement dynamics of grassland butterflies, Dr. Thomas Rosburg as a restoration ecologist and herbarium curator, and The Nature Conservancy as a Conservation Planning Intern.
She took off to travel and work in activism for the likes of Greenpeace, and eventually landed in the rainforest of Peru to volunteer as a Resident Naturalist at Explorer’s Inn where she met Dr. Chris Kirkby and the rest of the FFT team. Ashley and Chris collaborated to begin the official insect team of Fauna Forever and went on to study the use of butterflies as indicator species of biodiversity and disturbance.
Ashley left Fauna Forever in 2011 to pursue her MSc working with Apodemia mormo, a threatened neotropical butterfly that lives in the prairies of southern Saskatchewan, but no need to worry as she will soon be back with her statistical chops (and anyway, she’s always just an email away for design advice or butterfly ecology answers)!
Ashley recently discovered a new behavior of Apodemia mormo and has a paper in press…. (Keep an eye open for it!)
Naun Amable Silva, Ornithology at Fauna Forever
Born and raised in Puerto Maldonado, Naun worked with his father as a timber extractor (maderero). Since the tender age of just six months, Naun was living by his father’s side deep within the jungle. Naun had dreams of becoming an engineer in the city, but his parents couldn’t afford to send him to University so he decided to give tour guiding a go. Lucky for us his tour guiding soon found him in a world of rainforest biologists.
After Naun finished studying in 2004 he volunteered for Fauna Forever across all three of the wildlife monitoring teams at the time; mammals, herpetofauna and birds. With a level of wildlife identification skill, in particular with birds, greater than that of any other person on the project, he was beckoned towards a permanent position on the project. After a stint in England where he had the opportunity to guide volunteers in the Mismere RSPB Reserve Area, Naun returned to Peru and travelled the country (and many other parts of South America) from top to bottom while wearing out the pages in his Birds of Peru book. Naun finally joined the FFT Project in 2010 and now works as the Bird Team Coordinator.
Tom Ambrose, Ornithology and Photography at Fauna Forever
Tom is from Colchester in the UK. He has spent a considerable amount of time volunteering on the FFT bird team during the last two years – in 2011 he spent six months working with Naun Amable Silva, who passed on a wealth of knowledge and bird ID skills.
Tom has a passion for wildlife photography, which ties in nicely with his bird team leadership role. With its huge diversity, from the large charismatic monkeys, to tiny alien-like invertebrates, Tambopata has become an intriguing stage for Tom’s photography skills. Tom’s future plans with FFT include a number of unique and cutting-edge camera based research which he will be initiating in 2012.