The 20th century had “Leakey’s Angles,” and the 21st century has the “Lion Ladies.” “Leakey’s Angels” is a relatively recent name given to three women sent by archaeologist Louis Leakey to study primates in their natural environments. The three are Jane Goodal, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdikas. They studied chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans respectively. Goodal and Galdaikas are still alive and still involved in primate research (Goodall is 77 and Galdaikas is aged 65). Dian Fossey was murdered in 1985. The dedication of “Leakey’s Angels” to the well being of the primates they study mirrors the dedication of the three “Lion Ladies” I met at the Big Cats Conference in Washington DC. The so called “Lion Ladies” were on several panels throughout the conference and spoke about their work with the Big Cats in Africa. Here is a brief description of who these “Lion Ladies” are. “Amy Dickman is a conservationist, wildlife ecologist and zoologist and has worked in Africa for more than 13 years. National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative is supporting Amy’s current project, which focuses on large carnivore ecology in Tanzania’s Ruaha landscape and strives to minimize human-carnivore conflict on village land adjacent to Ruaha National Park. She works with the Tanzania Carnivore Project and is a Big Cats Initiative Grantee” . www.tanzaniacarnivores.org “Dr. Laly Lichtenfeld has a passion for Africa. She lives in Tanzania and is co-founder and the executive director of the African People & Wildlife Fund and a research affiliate of Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. She has over 15 years of experience in East Africa working with large carnivores, local communities and village-based conservation programs. Her work has been featured on Nat Geo Wild and Discovery Channel Canada. She is a Big cats Initiative Grantee.” “Paula Kahumbu, executive director of the Kenya Land Conservation Trust and WildlifeDirect, and chairman of the Friends of Nairobi National Park, was coached and mentored by paleoanthropologist and conservationist Richard Leakey, who remains one of her closest allies and supporters. She is a Big Cats Initiative grantee and a 2011 Nat Geo Emerging Explorer. http://www.klct.or.ke
Paula Kahumu ate dinner at our table and someone said: “Pay attention, we MAY be dining with a future Nobel Peace Prize winner!” ”
On stage are the “Lion Ladies” with moderator Luke Dollar, a wildlife conservationist in Madagascar: Amy Dickman, Laly Lichtenfeld, Paula Kahumu.