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.

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.

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!

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.

Dean Rand

Dean will assist during days aboard the Discovery only. Considered by many to be one of the most knowledgeable mariners in Prince William Sound, Dean's extensive involvement with a broad range of scientific research conducted throughout the sound has provided him with a well-rounded background in the region's natural history. Longtime owner and Captain of the Discovery, Dean is a master shipwright and marine mechanic with more than 40 years of full-time service in the marine trades on the Alaska coast.

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 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 Lifelines 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.

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 knows the birds and mammals of Kenya very well, and as a photographer understands how to position the vehicle for great photos. He grew up in the Kakamega Forest in western Kenya and was one of only nine students chosen to receive an in-depth course in forest ecology and is now is an excellent professional naturalist. He has worked with Cheesemans’ since the early 1990’s with rave reviews.

Hishey Tshering

Hishey spent his lifetime promoting and preserving nature in Bhutan through many guiding and conservation efforts. He worked for the Royal Society for the Protection of Nature and the International Crane Foundation on bird issues. His belief in "Gross National Happiness" and extensive knowledge of culture, birds, and wildlife make him one of the most sought-after guides in Bhutan for over 15 years. Hishey will be helped by an assistant guide and driver.

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 (www.hughrosephotography.com). 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.

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 besides medicine. 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 already full repertoire of skills, which included things like sorting wool (farm girl), hanging out of helicopters (emergency/rescue services), and cooking the perfect koeksister (mom's a cook).

Macstyl Sasao

Macstyl (Macs) grew up in the Republic of Palau, paddling his outrigger canoe among the wild outdoors. By age seven, his extended family swept him away to provide better educational opportunities in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. He returned to Palau after high school and found a group of relatives who taught him the advanced arts of Micronesian hunting and fishing. Abandoning his western customs, Macs quickly adapted to a lifestyle which revolved around the moon and the tides. This lunar existence required an intimate knowledge of fish behavior and the ability to free dive under the full moon light in search of massive aggregations of spawning fish. As the ecotourism industry had begun to develop in Palau, Macs traded his spear gun for an underwater camera, finding 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.

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.

Scott Davis

Scott is a professional photographer specializing in wildlife, nature, and travel (www.scottdavisimages.com). 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, the first three as a resident guide at Kanha Jungle Lodge. He has guided in many other national parks, including Bharatpur where he now lives, plus Bandhavgarh, Corbett, Ranthambhore, and many others. He earned his master’s degree and is a member of Life Line for Nature-India, the Bombay Natural History Society, World Wildlife Fund for Nature India, and the Guide Association of Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur. At Bharatpur he is involved in mammal censusing, non-native plant eradication efforts, such as the removal of water hyacinth, and in vulture surveys in Rajasthan. He is a wonderful teacher with a great personality.

Tashi Tenzing

Tashi is a Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer, naturalist, and the grandson of Tenzing Norgay who made the first ascent of Mount Everest in 1953. Tashi grew up in Darjeeling and received a degree from the University of New Delhi. He successfully climbed Mount Everest and Mount Denali and guided climbing trips in the Antarctic for 10 years. He is based in Kathmandu where his family also 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 with Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris. Ted leads expeditions to Antarctica, the Arctic, and the Caribbean, he served a five-year term on the Executive Committee of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), and he recently founded the citizen science project Happywhale as part of the PhD he’s working on.

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.

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.

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