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.

Agnès Brenière

Agnès is a self-taught naturalist who studied environmental law and management; she is devoted to helping others discover nature and is a committed conservationist. She worked in partnership with the League for the Protection of Birds in France, initiating and leading a project developing access to nature for disabled people. She specializes in guiding in the polar regions and the Russian Far East, where she shares her passion for these fascinating habitats and their wildlife. Agnès is also a keen photographer and one of the authors of Journey to Antarctica.

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.

Bablu Khan

Bablu is Ansar’s brother and was also born at Bharatpur into the family of foresters who have managed Keoladeo National Park for two generations. He has traveled widely, including leading wildlife tours in India, and as such he is an expert on India’s mammals and birds. He is highly respected among naturalists in India and has a charming personality.

Benjamin Kahn

Benjamin is a marine mammal ecologist who specializes in oceanic cetaceans. He is the Director of the Coral Triangle Oceanic Cetacean Program for APEX Environmental and co-founder of Planet Deep (www.planetdeep.org) a non-profit focused on the conservation of oceanic and deep-sea habitats. Benjamin has partnered with governments, other NGOs, local communities, and industry groups to help protect oceanic hotspots for cetaceans and other large marine life in the region. He is a member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission and the World Commission on Protected Areas, and three IUCN Specialist Groups. He is also a technical advisor on the impact of marine debris on marine mammals for the Indonesia Waste Platform.

Berni Hicker

After living 30 years north of the Arctic Circle in the Brooks Range of Alaska, Berni has experienced the true Arctic. He was born in Germany, but loved Alaska so much that he made it his home. He is an accomplished naturalist, wildlife spotter, and storyteller, drawing on his experience living off the grid. Berni and his family now run the best bed and breakfast north of the Arctic Circle!

Bill Mohrwinkel

Living and guiding in Alaska for 25 years, Bill has vast knowledge to share. He was part owner of an Arctic tour business for 10 years and has guided sea kayaking trips in Prince William Sound, polar and brown bear trips, and birding trips. His love of the polar regions has led bill to also guide in Antarctica and South Georgia Island. Though he is not a photographer, he has extensive experience guiding photo trips and works hard to help clients accomplish their goals for the tour. His true passion is natural history and sharing that passion with participants, and he loves to have fun!

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.

Charlie Ryan

After signing up for a volunteer program in Indonesia in 2008, Charlie was re-routed to Sabah, Borneo where he helped set up community initiative programs for the Abai village. He has resided in Sabah ever since. Charlie guides for the National Geographic Adventure groups in Borneo and helps train nature guides, providing them with first-hand knowledge and experience. He is also an avid photographer, which compliments his passion for wildlife, culture, and travel.

Claudio Vidal

With Patagonia as his backyard, Claudio developed his deep knowledge of its wildlife and environs at a young age. As a result of this vast expertise, he published many natural history field guides that feature his professional photography, including a guide to the birds of Torres del Paine National Park. Travelers appreciate his warm personality and attention to details.

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.

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.

Doug Cheeseman

Doug leverages his expertise gained during 35 years of teaching ecology and zoology at De Anza College to offer travelers a unique learning experience in wildlife-rich regions of the world. Doug and Gail have led over 70 safaris to Africa, especially to Tanzania and Kenya, since 1978. They also led many tours to all corners of the globe including the Antarctic, South America, Australia, and Asia. A love of photographing wildlife behavior and giving college-level lectures to interested groups adds to his accomplishments.

Dr. Chandra Salgado Kent

Chandra’s passion for marine ecology was born while scuba diving in a sink hole in New Mexico, studying mercury bioaccumulation in lakes and rivers. She is a professor at the Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research at Edith Cowan University, studying marine mammal ecology and bio-acoustics. As an international scientific expert, Chandra has advised organizations such as the International Whaling Commission, the Sustainable Development Institute in Australia, and the Brazilian government.

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 throughout the world as a trekking guide and naturalist on small expedition ships while continuing scientific research as time allows. She combines her enthusiasm and passion for the world’s wild places with a burning curiosity learn 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.

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.

Emmanuel Joseph

Emmanuel has great knowledge of the terrain and wildlife of Tanzania that is matched by a great sense of humor and contagious chuckle. He was a driver/naturalist for Ngorongoro in the 1980’s when Doug and Gail met him. His father was head chef at Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, giving him a wonderful opportunity to learn about its special wildlife while growing up.

Gail Cheeseman

Gail is a naturalist of the best kind–self-taught through a lifetime in the field fueled by a deep passion for wildlife. Her attention to tour details and individual desires ensures that each Cheesemans’ traveler has the experience of their dreams. Gail has a true spirit for conservation that drives her actions on many issues, both local and worldwide. Together, Gail and Doug make a team of remarkable ecologists who seek to inspire others to enjoy and conserve the Earth’s wild landscapes.

Geoffrey Lungu

Geoffrey loves to observe and interpret Zambia's animal behavior and interactions and leads with great enthusiasm. To put it in his own words, "there is never a chance to get bored in the bush." Always keen to encourage interest in all his guests, his ambition is to write a book about the mammals of the South Luangwa. Geoffrey enjoys pointing out reptiles and birds and is always keen to listen to your questions and photo requests.

Grephus Andalo Ingati

Grephus is an excellent naturalist who has great knowledge of the birds and mammals of Kenya. He is also a photographer and great at positioning the vehicle so everyone has a chance to take photos. Wonderful teachers filled his childhood in a very bird- and primate-rich area, the Kakamega Forest in western Kenya. He was one of nine students chosen from Kakamega to receive an in-depth course in forest ecology. He and his family also run an organic farm in the Kakamega area.

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 had worked for the Royal Society for the Protection of Nature 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 back-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.

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 identify and talk about them.

Johannes Hennicke

Almost as tall as a ship’s mast, German native Johannes has spent more than a decade in the Coral Triangle and has been a Cruise Director in Raja Ampat and the surrounding regions. He is a founding member of Planet Deep (www.planetdeep.org) – one of the non-profit organizations we are collaborating with for this expedition. With more than 5,000 dives logged within the Indonesian archipelago, he is full of enthusiasm for the underwater world and loves to share it. When he is not on the ship spotting cetaceans and rare critters, he is busy building a sustainable resort on Alor island in Indonesia with his partner.

Juan Manuel Salcedo

Juan grew up in the Galápagos 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 Galápagos Islands and on mainland Ecuador fills his spare time.

Logan Pallin

Logan grew up in northern Minnesota and later ventured to North Carolina for his college degree at Duke University where he very quickly fell in love with marine life. Now a Ph.D. student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California Santa Cruz, Logan works in the Bio-telemetry and Behavioral Ecology Lab directed by Dr. Ari Friedlaender. For his Ph.D. research, Logan travels to Antarctica, the Southern Ocean, and the tropics to study populations of Southern Hemisphere humpback whales. He uses GPS tags and skin biopsies of the whales to gather data about their populations – demographics, reproductive rates, etc. – and how natural influences, such as climate change, and unnatural influences, such as commercial hunting, affect these populations.

Lynne Hoole

In the many years she has been practicing medicine in South Africa, Lynne has dabbled in so many fields that you will find yourself asking her advice on a multitude of subjects. Her combination of research in many medical care fields and experience from all sorts of unlikely places has made her an indispensable part of our staff. On our past expeditions, she has added holding onto a Zodiac in surf and defending people from curious fur seals to her repertoire of skills, which included things like sorting wool, hanging out of helicopters, and cooking the perfect koeksister.

Macstyl Sasao

Macstyl (Macs) grew up in the Republic of Palau and at age seven, he left for better educational opportunities in the Pacific Northwest of the US. He returned to Palau after high school and found a group of relatives who taught him Micronesian hunting and fishing and Macs quickly adapted to a lifestyle which revolved around the moon and the tides. This required an intimate knowledge of fish behavior and the ability to free dive under moon light in search of massive aggregations of spawning fish. As the ecotourism industry developed in Palau, Macs found that understanding fish behavior during hunting translated well into photography. So now he shares his passion for Palau's environment as a guide, plus uses his photography to help guide policy to protect Palau's fragile environment and precious resources.

Maulidi Omari

Maulidi, like many of our Tanzanian guides, has been working with us since the late 1980s. He is a true intellectual who spends hours studying nature, even learning the scientific names plus many interesting facts of the species you encounter. It seems that he has "eyes in the back of his head" because of his keen spotting abilities used to find hidden leopards and other wildlife. He knows all the bird songs, which he began learning as a boy growing up west of Tarangire National Park. He is a wonderful teacher and safari companion.

Oliver Coray

Oliver was born and raised in Alaska, spending every summer of his life in remote Lake Clark National Park at his family’s wilderness lodge. He takes guests into the surrounding brown bear territory to photograph and observe bears. He also uses charter boats and kayaks to access bays up and down the coastline, the perfect way to gain access to pelagic bird nesting grounds, harbor seal rookeries, and wandering sea otters. After receiving a degree from Montana State University, he now splits his time between the lodge, travelling, and photography.

Paco Madrigal

Paco has over 20 years of experience guiding wildlife, natural history, and birding tours throughout his native Costa Rica. He has been leading tours in Panama since 2014. He studied English and Ornithology at the University of Florida then worked at Costa Rica’s 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.

Rajveer Singh

Rajveer grew up in Bharatpur near Keoladeo National Park and as such developed early interests in the prolific wildlife living there. He graduated from the University of Rajasthan and is now one of the most experienced resident naturalists in India and very highly respected throughout India’s national park system. He has guided many groups from US natural history museums to universities and wildlife societies throughout the Indian sub-continents, including Nepal and Bhutan. Everyone who travels with Rajveer greatly enjoys his leadership.

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.

Samuel Blanc

Sam spent three years as the head of educational programs for the League for the Protection of Birds in France and has an incredible eye for spotting birds and mammals. He specializes in guiding in the polar regions and his photos have won many prizes. His lectures about ice and explorers, plus his knowledge of wildlife will keep you entranced during our voyage.

Scott Davis

Scott is a professional photographer specializing in wildlife, nature, and travel. Originally trained as a wildlife and marine biologist, his research and photo assignments took him to the far corners of the globe. National Geographic, BBC, Animal Planet, and renowned magazines have used his photography. His patience for teaching and love of capturing the essence of his subjects make him one of our most popular tour leaders.

Solohery Rasamison

Solohery has been doing bird surveys and monitoring programs around Madagascar since 2003 and has published four scientific articles on birdcalls. After earning a Master’s degree in Conservation Biology, Solohery began guiding natural history trips across the island. Being one of the most experienced and respected resident Malagasy guides, he knows the local biodiversity well and greatly enjoys guiding wildlife group. He is enthusiastic, extremely well-versed on Malagasy history and culture, speaks fluent English and French, and has a great sense of humor.

Steven Massey

Steven has been guiding for us in Tanzania since the late 1980s. He is, to a great extent, self-educated and is even now taking exams to finish his degrees. He learned to speak English when he was in the Tanzanian Army. He often studies mammal, bird, and plant books and puts his extensive knowledge to work in the field to find the best wildlife action. Steven grew-up on fertile highlands near Ngorongoro Crater. He has a wonderfully warm personality, is a great leader, and highly respected among the safari guides in Tanzania.

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 Tenzing Norgay, the first man to ascend Mount Everest. Tashi grew up in Darjeeling and received a degree from the U. of New Delhi. He successfully climbed Mt. Everest and Mt. Denali and guided climbing trips in the Antarctic for 10 years. He is based in Kathmandu where his family runs mountain lodges, builds schools, administers a medical facility, and awards scholarships for young people to attend school.

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 obsesses over humpback whales identified around the world through the citizen science project Happywhale.com. Ted is working on a Ph.D. on humpbacks at Southern Cross University, New South Wales, Australia.

Tim Carr

Tim and Pauline Carr spent 14 years on South Georgia Island managing the South Georgia Museum. Before becoming the sole two residents on South Georgia, they spent 25 years circumnavigating the globe in Curlew, a 28-foot, engineless, wooden sailboat, built in 1898. In addition to their sailing exploits around South Georgia Island, they extensively explored the inland mountains while camping in tents, bivouacs, and snow holes. Tim is a passionate and knowledgeable explorer and seaman.

Titus Imboma

Titus received his Master’s in Avian Biology in 2014 and will complete his PhD by 2021. He has worked at the Nairobi National Museum’s Department of Ornithology for many years. Titus’s father, Jackson, was Doug and Gail Cheeseman’s favorite guide in the 1980s; Jackson passed his vast knowledge and experience on to Titus. Our safaris have now benefited from his education and experience for over 15 years.

Tom Murphy

Tom has offered custom photographic tours and seminars for nearly 30 years, specializing in engaging locations such as Yellowstone National Park, Antarctica, and Africa. He travels and photographs extensively throughout Yellowstone and has hiked thousands of miles and skied on hundreds of extended overnight trips in the backcountry. Much of his work in Yellowstone was highlighted in a popular PBS Nature series program, Christmas in Yellowstone, and several of his own books. His passion and talent is photographing wildlife in their environment to tell the story of life and survival. He is a popular teacher, known for his easy-going attitude, helpful demeanor, and one-on-one style of instruction.

Tom Wairegi

Tom has extensive knowledge about African wildlife, especially about mammal behavior, along with a great personality and high energy. With an excellent eye for photography, he will position the vehicle so you can capture wonderful photos of your safari. Tom guided for us before and we are thrilled that he will once again be one of our leaders.

Tonia Cochran

Tonia Cochran 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 a diverse professional career in science, conservation, and tourism. Her specialty is knowing the best places in Australia to find wildlife, something that is hard to do on your own. Tonia is a superb leader as proven by the many accolades she receives and will help you really understand what makes Australia tick.

Wayne Sentman

Wayne is the Oceanic Society’s Director of Conservation Travel Programs, and in 2013, he received his Master’s degree from Harvard University in Environmental Management and Sustainability. He has studied tropical marine ecosystems for over 15 years, working for the USFWS, National Marine Fisheries Service and with university groups leading snorkeling excursions in the Indian and Pacific oceans since 1992. Wayne has led research and ecotourism programs for Oceanic Society since 1998, including tours to Midway Atoll, Micronesia, Suriname, Belize, Tonga, Fiji, Kenya, and Raja Ampat.

Yuda Mkai

Yuda grew up near the east side of Kilimanjaro near the Kenya border on land that is now part of Mkomazi National Park. He worked at a wildlife sanctuary before becoming a guide and is especially knowledgeable about animal behavior. Due to his long hours in the field observing wildlife, he understands their feeding, hunting, and other behaviors, especially the cats. Like all our Tanzanian guides, he is aware of the elements that make a good photo and will position the vehicle to achieve the best action in the best light.

Zach Waithaka

Zach has been a guide for Cheesemans’ Kenya safaris since the 1980’s and received many accolades. An outstanding naturalist and excellent driver, he loves to locate hard-to-find predators, especially cats. He and his wife own a farm in the fertile Kenya Highlands.

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