Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris

Our Leaders

Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris carefully selects leaders who are tops in their field to ensure that your experience is the best it can be. We also provide a complete support staff on our larger expeditions and often use local guides to enhance your experience. Your trip itinerary lists your trip leaders.

Abdul Rashid

Rashid is a Himalayan expert skilled in mountaineering, photography, and snow leopard conservation. He's from Nubra Valley and is proficient in 8 languages. In his 20-year career, he has guided travelers up peaks such as Nun Kun (7,125m and 7,077m), Saser (7,518m), Chamser (6,634m), Lingser (6,666m), and Stok Kangri (6,153m). Sharing his knowledge with guests, he now leads elite snow leopard trackers on expeditions in India, Kyrgyzstan, and Mongolia. Rashid resides in Leh with his family.

Aditya Panda

Aditya is an award-winning naturalist, wildlife conservationist, and photographer from Odisha, India. For over 15 years he has focused on identifying and preserving larger tiger and elephant landscapes, empowering human-elephant conflict mitigation squads, and working with frontline forest personnel in tiger habitat. He will ready engage in conversations on a wide range of topics and is always eager to go the extra mile to make you comfortable. You’ll find that his infectious interpretation style will give you a deep understanding of and appreciation for India and its wildlife.

Ali Liddle

Ali has lived on the Falkland Islands and South Georgia but now lives on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. She has worked on expedition ships since 2010, and is a self-confessed ‘polar addict’ with a deep love of Antarctica and the Arctic; their landscapes, wildlife, and history. She has published three books: Plants of the Falkland Islands and two art and craft books for kids using penguins and albatross as their inspiration. Ali finished three marathons, and she enjoys hiking, cycling, photography, and art. She loves sharing her knowledge of and passion for the polar regions.

Allison Cusick

Allison is a PhD student at Scripps Institution of Oceanography studying polar phytoplankton and holds a master's degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation. As lead developer of the citizen science project, FjordPhyto, she hopes travelers can help better our scientific understanding of Antarctic fjord ecosystems and their response to a changing climate. She has conducted research for more than a decade in the fields of neuroscience, biofuel, genetics, and ecology. Her work has taken her to exotic ecosystems in the Amazon jungle, the plains of Africa, and fjords of Antarctica.

Angus Henderson

Angus is a PhD student at the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania. Angus's project seeks to tap into the network of Antarctic tourist vessels to collect data on foraging baleen whales. He hopes this work will help better manage our fishing of their key food source – Antarctic krill. Studying top predators for more than a decade, his work that has taken him from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Specializing in the largest of Southern Ocean krill predators, Angus loves to share his passion and knowledge for baleen whales to anyone who will listen.

Ansar Khan

Ansar specializes in wildlife photography and guides many wildlife tours in northern and eastern India and in Bhutan. He is an expert on India’s birds and mammals. Ansar was born at Bharatpur and comes from a family of foresters who have worked in the Keoladeo National Park for two generations. Many of his photographs have appeared in magazines and books. He is also active with Life Line for Nature Society, a Bharatpur-based nonprofit working towards the welfare and conservation and wildlife and nature.

Augustine Mwangotya

Augustine, founder and owner of our local safari operator, studied at Tanzania’s College of Wildlife Management and served with the Tanzania Wildlife Department, developing an invaluable set of connections and knowledge. He received his Master’s in Conservation Biology and Ecotourism from Prescott College in Arizona. Augustine’s warmth and humor, intimate knowledge of animal behavior, friendships with indigenous people, and command of logistical details have given him a well-deserved reputation in the safari field.

Brent Pikolas

Brent currently calls Seward, Alaska home, where he is the Lead Captain on a fleet of passenger vessels focused on wildlife and glacier tours. He has a degree in Environmental Education from Prescott College which led him to countless days in the field all throughout the Western US, Mexico, Canada, and Nepal. In recent years, he's also taken those explorations to Antarctica, South Georgia, and the Falkland Islands. Brent is extremely passionate about the natural world and loves to share his in-depth knowledge whenever he can.

Cheryl Opperman

Cheryl is an acclaimed nature photographer who has captured spectacular images of nature, wildlife, and indigenous cultures on every continent. Her esthetic compositions, artistic use of light, and exquisite detail have been honored with several prestigious awards, and she was featured as a leading female nature photographer by Outdoor Photographer Magazine. Cheryl uses the power of photography to inspire interest in the environment and cultures, and with her Bachelor of Arts degree in Industrial/Scientific photography, you will walk away with memorable photos on any trip she leads!

Chris Desborough

Chris, originally from the U.K., has been living near Yellowstone’s Northwest entrance for the last 34 years. He is passionate about wildlife photography and the Yellowstone Ecosystem. His background in optical engineering has led him to work with many optical lithography systems such as those of Canon and Nikon. Chris has completed several trips with Cheesemans’ and matches Cheesemans' Co-Owner and Co-CEO, Scott Davis', passion for photography and working with others.

Claudio Vidal

Claudio is a native Chilean, a leading ornithologist, and co-author of more than 20 books on wildlife. An avid bird watcher from the age of 12, he now leads tours throughout the region, sharing his expertise about seabirds and marine mammals of the Humboldt Current, Patagonia, and Antarctica. Additionally, his passion for botany has led him to document wildflowers of the desert and Mediterranean regions of the world. He is easygoing, passionate about his work, and eager to share his knowledge with you.

David 'Billy' Herman

Billy loves nothing more than sharing nature and wildlife with travelers. He has led trips around the world and his passions are mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and large insects. He worked as an educational assistant for a nature youth movement and Natuurpunt, one of the biggest nature organizations in Belgium. For the last several years he has specialized in nature photography. His enthusiasm for adventure, good food, wildlife, and beautiful landscapes will make this an unforgettable experience.

David Mshana

David has been a popular safari guide for over 25 years. He has an uncanny ability to spot leopards and other wildlife even while driving with consummate skill. His flexibility, kindness, and charm complement his spotting talents, and he is adept at getting the vehicle into position for the best possible wildlife photos. David has earned certificates in Tour Guiding and Leadership, and he is passionate about continuing to learn and grow as a guide. When not guiding, he takes care of his farm and family on the slopes of Mt. Meru.

Diogo Lucatelli

Diogo studied Biology at Bahia Federal University, one of the most renowned academies in Brazil, and began working as a naturalist guide in the Pantanal region in 2011. His skills in zoology, animal behavior, botany, animal tracking, ecology, birding, and photography have propelled his career in guiding for renowned lodges, safari groups, and research programs. On safari, Diogo aspires to build a bond between travelers and nature and instill a commitment to conservation by sharing his experiences, knowledge, and love for the region.

Dr. Joy Reidenberg

Dr. Joy Reidenberg is a scientist, educator, artist, and photographer. She is a professor at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in NY where she teaches medical students and does research in comparative anatomy. Her work focuses on adaptations to environmental extremes (e.g., marine mammals).  She hopes to mimic these adaptations to develop new medical treatments for human diseases that have similarities to these extreme environments, and protective or preventive technologies to prevent injuries in people spending time in these extreme environments. She is internationally known for her role in many TV documentaries (BBC, PBS, NatGeoWild, Discovery and Science Channels).

Dr. Lynne Hoole, MBChB

Dr. Hoole is a self-described jack-of-all-trades with an interest in many aspects of medical care. She combines a knowledge of old-school, can-do methods with a keen interest in new information, ideas, and equipment to create the best blend available, particularly in remote environments where resources vary in reliability and up to date. She believes in borrowing a little bit of knowledge from every encounter she has, whether it be a tiny remote clinic in the middle of the Southern Ocean or a European military field hospital in the Sahara Desert.

Dr. Merel Dalebout

A scientist with many interests, Merel studied botany, then earned her PhD specializing in the evolutionary genetics of rare “beaked whales.” She spent several years studying Southern Ocean cetaceans and realized she had a true passion for reconnecting people with nature. After training as a wilderness guide, she now travels extensively throughout the world as a trekking guide and a naturalist on small expedition ships while continuing to do scientific research as time allows. Merel combines her enthusiasm and passion for the world’s wild places with a burning curiosity to know all she can about them.

Dr. Tom Hart

Tom has a passion for wildlife in extreme environments and is working hard to conserve them in a changing world. His PhD involved tracking macaroni penguins to understand penguin foraging behavior. Since then, he expanded into genetics and image analysis to monitor wildlife in remote places. He runs the Penguin Watch project at Oxford University through which he seeks to understand changes in Antarctic wildlife using time-lapse cameras, volunteer photos, and population genetics to effectively create protected areas and manage fisheries.

Emanuel Lema

Emanuel grew up at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro, where his observations of guides taking visitors up the mountain inspired him to pursue a career in ecotourism. He exudes charisma and positive energy, and he shares his encyclopedic knowledge of birds and mammals with grace and humility. His birding skills, including recognition of vocalizations, are top-notch. He has over 17 years of experience guiding wildlife, natural history, and birding tours throughout Tanzania and is delighted to again be working for Cheesemans’.

Emily Burke

Emily is an assistant scientist at Sea Education Association, teaching marine science to university students aboard sailing ships in New Zealand and the South Pacific Islands. Since graduating from Harvard with a degree in evolutionary biology and ecology, she has studied seabird and fisheries in the San Juan Islands, lived with Adélie penguins in a remote field research camp in Antarctica, and guided sea kayaking expeditions in Alaska’s Kenai Fjords. Emily loves sharing her enthusiasm for adventure and the natural world with those around her.

George Desort

George is a freelance cameraman working in television. Last summer he lived in the Yukon Territory shooting for Discovery Channel’s Gold Rush and has also shot for Deadliest Catch, Building Alaska, Building Off the Grid, and spent a decade filming moose and wolves in Isle Royale National Park. He has traveled the world with his camera, from the Arctic to Mongolia where is he working on an independent documentary on argali and ibex poaching, and the horsemen protecting them. A natural teacher, George looks forward to sharing his skills with those ready to expand their photography and video skills using nothing more than a smartphone.

Harsha Jayaramaiah

Harsha was fascinated by wildlife from a young age. He rescued and rehabilitated urban wildlife with People for Animals and worked for Sanctuary Asia’s Kids for Tigers project until he was chosen to be a naturalist at a wildlife lodge, eventually becoming Head Naturalist. He’s led wildlife trips in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Borneo, Brazil, and Tanzania. He and his wife, Payal, created content to run India’s first Online Nature Guide Programs in collaboration with Nature Conservation Foundation where members of the local communities can attend for free.

Hishey Tshering

Hishey Tshering is an avid birder, a football (soccer) fanatic, and a keen conservationist. Prior to establishing the company (Bhutan Birding & Heritage Travels), Hishey worked for the Royal Society for the Protection of Nature (RSPN) as its Communications Officer. During his years at RSPN, he played a pivotal role in the protection of the black-necked cranes. In 1998 he worked with Dr. George Archibald, co-founder of the International Crane Foundation, on the first-ever color-banding and radio-collaring of the black-necked cranes to study their migratory route.

Hugh Rose

Hugh has over 20 years of professional guiding experience and has been a key member of the Cheesemans’ Antarctica staff since 1998. The vast landscapes and incredible wildlife of Alaska and the Polar Regions are his subject and passion, evident in his inspired leadership and stunning professional photos. Hugh receives unending praise for his amazing knowledge, delightful and accommodating personality, and attention to every trip detail.

Ida Olsson

Ida is a Senior Polar Guide for the Polar Guides Tourism Association (PTGA) with over 18 years of experience in the outdoor industry. Born in Sweden, Ida worked as a high school teacher in physical education and history, while also working as a whitewater rafting and snowmobile guide, later transitioning to full-time guiding in the northernmost wilderness of Sweden. Currently, she spends most of her time in the Arctic and Antarctic, guiding snowmobile, glacier hikes, and skiing trips. With a special interest in history, glaciology, and wildlife she enjoys sharing her knowledge through storytelling while being in nature and helping guests experience their own adventures of a lifetime.

Joe Kaplan

Joe has had a passion for natural history, especially birds, since childhood. He has worked and traveled extensively throughout the Americas, the Pacific, Australasia, and Madagascar, gaining a broad understanding of biology and conservation. Joe is co-director and biologist for the non-profit organization Common Coast Research and Conservation. He is an expert on the many exciting birds that you will encounter on this expedition and is ready to teach you all about them.

John Bocci

John migrated to Alaska in 1977 and has been commercial fishing and handling boats in Alaska ever since. He holds a 100 Ton Masters license for near-shore waters. With over forty years of experience with the wind in his face, he has developed a deep respect and keen appreciation for the balancing act between man and the natural world. In the off-season, he divides his time between winter sports, a lighthouse preservation project, and enjoying the culture and cuisine of other countries through travel. After many Alaska winters, he’s lately finding a new interest in the backcountry of Baja and trying not to drown while learning to kiteboard.

Juan Manuel Salcedo

Juan grew up in the Galapagos Islands where he developed his passion for wildlife while sailing on his father's boat. He received a degree from the University of San Francisco, Quito after studying Applied Ecology, Biology, and Geology. Juan also earned a skipper certificate after studying sailing and navigation in Los Angeles. Involvement in Environmental Education projects in the Galapagos Islands and on mainland Ecuador fills his spare time.

Katlyn Taylor

Katlyn is a captain and guide on whale-watching boats all over the US. She has worked in the North Atlantic and North Pacific for over 8 years. Her passions include facilitating wildlife experiences, educating people about marine life, and inspiring conservation actions. She earned bachelors’ from Oregon State in Marine Biology and International Studies. She is a Junior Fellow with the Safina Center of Stonybrook University. Currently, her biggest project is a co-hosting The Whalenerd’s Podcast, a communication project about whales and other ocean-related topics.

Lizza Boitard-Thomas

Lizza is a mountain guide from France, and her passion oscillates steadily between the mountains and the sea. She particularly enjoys sharing her passion for the Arctic regional lands of Iceland, Norway, and Spitsbergen (Svalbard) and leads groups to discover the great outdoors and nature on the hiking trails of the French Alps. She also organizes cruises as a naturalist in the Mediterranean. Lizza is trained in ornithology by the Bird Protection League (LPO) and also specializes in cetology.

Macstyl Sasao

Macs grew up in Palau and the Pacific Northwest of the US. His relatives taught him the advanced arts of Micronesian hunting and fishing. He quickly adapted to a lifestyle that revolves around the moon and the tides, which  requires an intimate knowledge of fish behavior and the ability to free dive under the full moon to find masses of spawning fish. As ecotourism developed in Palau, finding that his knowledge translated well into photography, Macs traded his spear gun for an underwater camera. He now shares his passion for Palau's environment as a guide and photographer.

Mark Carwardine

Mark is a zoologist, BBC presenter, wildlife photographer, bestselling author and environmental activist. He co-presented the BBC-TV series 'Last Chance to See', with actor Stephen Fry, and for years hosted the weekly half-hour program ‘Nature' on BBC Radio 4. He has written 55 wildlife books (most recently, the 'Handbook of Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises') and writes a provocative conservation column in BBC Wildlife magazine. Voted one of the ‘World’s 40 Most Influential Nature Photographers', he was Chairman of the prestigious 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition'.

Milo Burcham

Milo, a wildlife biologist and photographer with 32 years of experience, calls Cordova, Alaska home. His recent research focused on Black Bears in Prince William Sound, but he’s worked with various species. With over 30 years as a professional wildlife photographer, he’s published images in National Geographic, Ranger Rick, Audubon, and more. Milo collaborated with BBC on Planet Earth and Edens, and led a month-long boat expedition for a conservation project along Alaska’s Arctic coast.

Mohan Singh Solanki

Mohan turned his childhood passion into a flourishing profession. He graduated from University of Rajasthan in India and was awarded Naturalist Guide's title from the Government of Rajasthan’s Department of Forest and is an approved tourist guide from Government of Rajasthan Department of Tourism Art and Culture. Using his vast knowledge of flora and fauna he has birded and guided all over India for more than 15 years, including Keoladeo National Park.

Oksana Savenko

Oksana Savenko is a PhD candidate and coordinator of marine mammal studies at the National Antarctic Scientific Center of Ukraine. She participated in the four Ukrainian Antarctic expeditions, including two year-round. Oksana initiated multi-year monitoring of cetaceans at the Ukrainian Antarctic Akademik Vernadsky station. Among the first significant results are photo-identification data and biopsy samples of humpback whales collected during austral winters at their Antarctic feeding ground of the West Antarctic Peninsula. Oksana also took part in many expeditions to the North Pacific and, for a long time, studied cetaceans in the Black and Azov seas.

Paco Madrigal

Paco has over 20 years of experience guiding wildlife, natural history, and birding tours throughout his native Costa Rica. He grew up in Sarapiqui near the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) Station surrounded by his family's passion for the diverse local plants and animals. He was part of the very first World Wildlife Fund (WWF) intensive Naturalist training program and also worked at La Selva Biological Station before following his dream of starting his own tour company. His deep knowledge and charming personality make him one of our best leaders.

Rafael Andrade

Rafael studied Environmental Management, specializing in Tourism, the Environment, and Social Responsibility. He began his work as a naturalist guide in 2013 throughout the Amazon and Pantanal, later becoming the head of guides for the Pantanal’s Caiman Lodge. He enjoys sharing his knowledge and passion for nature and wildlife with travelers while also integrating the local communities and the importance of respecting the environment.

Richard Barnden

Richard has been guiding and photographing marine life in the Pacific Ocean for nearly 20 years. His passion is in unique underwater imagery, specializing in spawning aggregations and blackwater night diving. Richard moved to Palau in his early twenties as a video pro then cruise director of multiple liveaboards where he continued filming. He has spent the last ten years researching spawning aggregations and their predictabilities. Richard’s specialty is leading spawning expeditions timed around lunar phases to observe fish reproduction.

Rigzin Chhosdol

Rigzin is from Gya, one of Ladakh's oldest settlements. She's an accomplished mountaineer and ABV Indian Institute of Mountaineering graduate, winning "Best Mountaineer" twice. Rigzin has worked on community-based conservation for years, protecting snow leopards, wolves, and other predators. As a field guide and camp coordinator, she leads snow leopard trips for six months annually, educating guests on Ladakhi culture and Trans-Himalayan wildlife. Rigzin's also active in the Youth Association of Gya and Miru, supporting education and environmental causes in her village.

Ron Niebrugge

A professional photographer with a keen following, Ron keeps busy leading photo tours and traveling on assignment in his native Alaska and lower 48. His images have caught the attention of many including impressive clients such as National Geographic, Smithsonian, and many advertising agencies. Ron specializes in finding the ordinary, mixing it with beautiful natural light and creating extraordinary photography. See some of his work at Niebrugge Images.

Ryan Hope-Inglis

Ryan is an accomplished polar guide and expedition leader with over 1500 days in the polar regions and 60+ voyages in Antarctica alone. He first discovered his love for the outdoors at a young age when introduced to scouting, and although he qualified as an aerospace engineer, he instead moved further south to become a Zodiac technician and driver onboard expedition vessels. Ryan is a Senior Polar Guide for the Polar Guides Tourism Association (PTGA) and a Svalbard Authorized Guide for the Arctic. Ryan loves to spend his winters in the high Arctic where he enjoys snowmobiling, hiking, and skiing, and has a keen interest in glacial dynamics, geology, and general nature.

Sadie Youngstrom

Sadie is a biology field research professional with expertise in marine wildlife and experience in extensive data collection and analysis, spanning both salt and freshwater ecosystems. She is passionate about studying animal behavior and promoting animal welfare and has contributed to various organizations involving endangered Southern Resident killer whale, humpback whale, Steller sea lion, harbor and Hawaiian monk seal population analysis, sea bird monitoring, salmonid habitat, and more. In her off time, Sadie explores the wonders that planet Earth has to offer.

Scott Davis

Scott, co-owner and co-CEO of Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris, is an expert wildlife, nature, and travel photographer. Trained as a wildlife and marine biologist, he's explored all seven continents for research and photography. National Geographic, BBCAnimal PlanetNY Times, and other prestigious publications have featured his inspiring work. Scott's passion for teaching and talent for capturing the essence of his subjects make him a highly sought-after tour leader.

Sunil Gaur

Sunil has 15 years of experience as a naturalist, including Bharatpur where he lives, Bandhavgarh, Corbett, Ranthambhore, Kanha Jungle Lodge, and many others. He earned his master’s degree and is a member of Life Line for Nature Society, the Bombay Natural History Society, World Wildlife Fund for Nature India, and the Guide Association of Keoladeo National Park. He participates in mammal censuses, non-native plant eradication, such as water hyacinth removal, and in vulture surveys. He is a wonderful teacher with a great personality.

Tashi Tenzing

Tashi is a Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer and naturalist with an in-depth knowledge of Nepal’s wildlife, including where to find birds and tigers in Nepal. He is the grandson of the famous Tenzing Norgay, who made the first complete ascent of Mount Everest in 1953. Tashi grew up in Darjeeling and earned a degree from the University of New Delhi. He has successfully summitted Mount Everest (3 times) as well as numerous other challenging peaks and has guided trips, including in the Antarctic, for decades. Based in Kathmandu, his family also runs mountain lodges, builds schools, administers a medical facility, and awards scholarships for young people.

Ted Cheeseman

Ted grew up traveling extensively and began studying and photographing wildlife as a child. After completing a master’s degree in Tropical Conservation Biology at Duke University, Ted returned to California to lead and organize expeditions full time with Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris. Ted currently leads expeditions to Antarctica, the Arctic, and the Caribbean and he obsesses over humpback whales identified around the world through the citizen science project Happywhale. Ted is working on a Ph.D. on humpback whales at Southern Cross University, New South Wales, Australia.

Tojo"Lytah" Razafimahefa

Tojo "Lytah" Razafimahefa, from Antananarivo, Madagascar, has over 18 years of experience in tourism. Beginning with organizing tours for Americans in 2005, he later established his consultancy business specializing in ecotourism and mentoring. As a seasoned guide, he has led tours worldwide. Currently, he serves as a Special Advisor to Madagascar's Guide Associations, and he facilitates dialogue with the government on matters of tourism advocacy as Chairman of the Confederation of Tourism. Additionally, as a co-founder of Wildlife Madagascar, he advocates for conservation and community welfare.

Tom Murphy

Tom has offered custom photographic tours and seminars specializing in snowy environments, such as Yellowstone National Park and Antarctica, for nearly 30 years. He also holds a great interest in African wildlife and leading African photo safaris. His passion is photographing wildlife in its environment to tell a story. Much of his work centers on Yellowstone as highlighted in a popular PBS nature series program, Christmas in Yellowstone, and several of his own books (www.tmurphywild.com).

Tonia Cochran

Tonia is a wonderful guide, naturalist, and conservationist with a wide range of experience in Australian fauna and flora. Armed with a PhD in Zoology, she has had a varied professional career in science, conservation, and tourism. Tonia is a superb leader as proven by the many accolades she receives during our tours to Australia. Tonia is committed to promoting educational and ecologically sustainable tourism and is founding chair of Wildlife Tourism Australia.

Vishnu Sinsinwar

Born in Bharatpur, Rajasthan, Vishnu is a professional naturalist and ornithologist who has led trips throughout India since 1989. He has an extensive knowledge of both flora and fauna and spent a month leading a trip with Gail and Doug Cheeseman in 1989 covering Central, Eastern, and Western India. He wrote a book with his brother, Colonel Shyam Singh, on the birds of Bharatpur and is a member of Bombay History Natural Society (BHNS).

Vusa Ncube

Vusa leads safaris in Hwange National Park as a fully licensed Professional Guide, the culmination of ten years of hard work and dedication. Zimbabwe's Professional Guides are known as among the best in Africa due to the intensive qualification procedure. Vusa guides with expertise in the plant, wildlife, and culture of Zimabawe, and he entertains travelers with his humor and warm personality. Vusa exudes passion for his native country.

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