Effecting Positive Change, Globally
Dr. Kurnia Khairani
Program Director for WWF Javan Rhino Program in Ujung Kulon
The World Wildlife Fund
Dr. Khairani began her wildlife health career as an intern at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary and after graduation joined the Rhino Foundation of Indonesia. She is the first Indonesian to receive a prestigious Morris Animal Foundation Fellowship that allowed her to conduct research in partnership with Dr. Radcliffe on the interconnected health of water buffalo and Javan rhinoceroses around Ujung Kulon National Park. Dr. Nia now leads the Javan Rhino Program for the World Wildlife Fund and leads engaged learning for Cornell students in Indonesia.
Dr. Marcellus Adi
Founder and President of ALeRT Indonesia
Dr. Marcel Adi was part of the team that established the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Way Kambas National Park where he directed operations for a decade. He now leads innovative community conservation efforts for both endangered species and habitats in both Sumatra and Borneo. Marcel has worked with a variety of endangered species, but his passion remains with the rare rhinoceroses living in the rainforests of Indonesia. Marcel is also a talented videographer and enjoys communicating a message of hope with children and adults alike, including our Cornell engaged learning students.
Dr. Gita Alvernita
Field Biologist and Assistant Veterinarian
The World Wildlife Fund
Dr. Alvernita works closely with Dr. Nia as part of WWF's rhino conservation work in Indonesia. Dr. Gita also coordinates the student activities for Cornell's engaged learning program where teams of professional DVM students work closely with undergraduates to discover all aspects of conservation medicine with activities ranging from health surveys and individual animal medicine to firsthand exposure to policy in local governments and outreach to community children and familes.
Dr. Rebeca Atencia
Executive Director of JGI's Congo Program and Head Veterinarian at Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Sanctuary
Jane Goodall Institute
Dr. Rebeca Atencia, who began as a veterinarian at Tchimpounga, recently completed defending her Ph.D. thesis in Chimpanzee Physiology. She spent several years expanding her knowledge of chimpanzee cardiology in preparation for her defense. Atencia earned her veterinary degree at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. She is originally from Ferrols, Spain.
Atencia has much to show for her time directing JGI’s programs in the Congo. On a daily basis, she oversees the intake and care of chimpanzees and other species at Tchimpounga. She also oversaw the sanctuary’s 7-year expansion to include three nearby islands of dense vegetation on the Kouilou River. The expansion improved the quality of life for JGI’s rehabilitated chimpanzees who cannot be released back into the wild and allowed Tchimpounga – the largest sanctuary in Africa – to take on even more orphaned and injured chimpanzees. As Executive Director, her work expands beyond the boundaries of Tchimpounga. Atencia uses her knowledge of veterinary medicine and captive primate care to train local veterinary assistants. She coordinates JGI’s support of the larger Tchimpounga Nature Reserve and supports the ecoguards that protect the reserve’s wild chimpanzees. And, as no small feat, she also coordinates JGI’s community-centered conservation practices for the entirety of the Congo.
Community-centered conservation revolves around the concept of promoting conservation in communities affected by the efforts, while simultaneously supporting that community’s access to sustainable livelihoods, health care, education, and clean water and fuel. When a community has access to these key services, their dependency on forest resources decreases, taking pressure off of the environment and bolstering support for conservation.
Dr. Peter Appell
Country Director for Jane Goodall Institute, Uganda
Jane Goodall Institute
Dr. Peter Apell manages the Jane Goodall Institute's conservation programs in Uganda and provides strategic leadership to program formulation, design and implementation for the conservation of chimpanzees and their habitat. Peter has accrued experience in the management of complex multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder conservation programs. Peter's experience spans over 10 years largely in integrated conservation and development, and wildlife health and management programs. Peter is a 2015 recipient of the Ian Redmond Conservation Award for the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP), an award created to encourage innovation, inspire leadership, and offer hope in the field of great ape conservation in Africa and Asia. Peter leads Cornell's engaged learning program in Uganda where students work with community partners and conservation leaders to build sustainable solutions to wildlife health challenges.
Dr. Pete Morkel
Wildlife Veterinarian and Rhinoceros Capture Expert
Dr. Pete Morkel is a graduate of the University of Pretoria where he received his Bachelor of Veterinary Science - he has been working full time as a wildlife doctor ever since. Pete has extensive experience with the physical and chemical capture and the translocation of African wildlife. He has worked with wildlife across Africa, much of his time being spent working with rare species, especially the black rhinoceros, on which he is a world expert. Pete is currently a member of the African Rhino Specialist Group of the IUCN SSC, and has twelve publications to his name. He is a 2017 recipient of the Lycaon Award, presented by the Wildlife Group of the South African Veterinary Association [SAVA] in Johannesburg. The award is made in recognition of an exceptional contribution to wildlife conservation. When introducing Pete the President of SAVA, Dr Johann Marais noted that Pete had worked in over 20 countries in Africa and that his specialties were rhino, elephant and giraffe. When closing his address about Pete he acknowledged that we have tonight the best black rhino vet in the world in our presence. In 2018, Pete was awarded the Prince William Award for Conservation in Africa where he said, "We can all make a difference and just believe in yourself and get started."
Dr. Mark Jago
Wildlife Veterinarian and Professor
University of Namibia School of Veterinary Medicine
After qualifying as a veterinarian at Cambridge University in the UK in 1985, Mark first worked in Africa on the Pan African Rinderpest Campaign as part of a team assessing the role of wild animals and small ruminants in the epidemiology of Rinderpest in Tanzania. After a brief period in general practice in the UK, Mark and his family immigrated to Namibia in 1993. For the next 13 years he worked in a mixed rural practice in central Namibia before joining the Ministry of Environment and Tourism as the Ministry’s “Game Capture Veterinarian” in 2007. In this post Mark was responsible for the capture, care and transport of a wide variety of wildlife, in particular rhino, as part of an array of government programs in pursuit of the country’s progressive and successful conservation goals. At the end of 2016 Mark joined the University of Namibia’s new School of Veterinary Medicine where he currently teaches wildlife clinical studies to Namibia’s next generation of veterinarians.
Dr. Jane Goodall
Founder & President
Jane Goodall Institute
Born on April 3, 1934, in London, England, Jane Goodall set out to Tanzania in 1960 to study wild chimpanzees. She immersed herself in their lives, bypassing more rigid procedures to make discoveries about primate behavior that have continued to shape scientific discourse. A highly respected member of the world scientific community, she advocates for ecological preservation through the Jane Goodall Institute.
In July 1960, accompanied by her mother and an African cook, Jane Goodall arrived on the shore of Lake Tanganyika in the Gombe Stream Reserve of Tanzania, Africa, with the goal of studying chimpanzees. By remaining in almost constant contact with the chimps, Goodall discovered a number of previously unobserved behaviors: She noted that chimps have a complex social system, complete with ritualized behaviors and primitive but discernible communication methods, including a primitive "language" system containing more than 20 individual sounds. She is credited with making the first recorded observations of chimpanzees eating meat and using and making tools. Tool making was previously thought to be an exclusively human trait. Jane and Robin began the Engaged Cornell program together one Christmas after making a commitment to help train a new generation of conservation leaders - their idea to bring professional students together with undergraduates became the foundation for a new program entitled "Conservation with Communities"