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Our staff is interdisciplinary ranging from endangered species experts, scientists, anthropologists, and communication leaders. We have strong local and international experience. Our skills, education, experience, and passion are devoted to developing and implementing innovative approaches with long term results to stop biodiversity loss. We favor the emergence of local young endangered species and conservation leaders around the world and integrate them in our projects.

Pierre Fidenci is the Founder and President of ESI. Born in Southern France, already at an early age he was involved in discovering, studying, and protecting nature. He quickly developed a special interest in amphibians and reptiles and actively participated in various wildlife research and conservation programs. At the age of only 20, Pierre already won multiple environmental awards including from Paul Sabatier University, the Nicolat Hulot Foundation, the French Government (Défit Jeune), and the Zellidja Foundation. More recently, he received conservation awards from the Conservation Leadership Award, the Turtle Conservation Fund, and the Sophie Danforth Conservation Biology Fund. With passion and expertise he has developed and directed conservation projects in South-, Central-, North America, south East Asia, and Europe. His areas of expertise include amphibians and reptiles, applied conservation, biological surveys, and community based projects. Pierre is a member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC). Check out the latest interview from the conversation with Power Magazine or an interview on South Korea’s frogs and ESI.

Jérôme Maran is a herpetologist, conservationist, writer, and photographer with unique experience in endangered species of West Africa. He has spent considerable time in Ivory Coast, Senegal, Gabon, and Morocco to inventory turtle and tortoise species. Among his unique findings, he recently discovered two new species of turtles in Western Africa and one in Brazil. Well-respected in his field, he received many awards from prestigious European organizations and institutions including Fondation de France. He has conducted biological inventories in South America, Africa, Asia, and Europe. At ESI, he serves as the African program officer. His unique strong field experience and community-based approach allows ESI to create and conduct successful projects in Africa.

Catalina Lopez Ospina is an ESI program manager and field conservation biologist for Colombia. She has exceptional community-based surveys and conservation skills. She is born in Medellin-Colombia. She finished her Master in Ecology and Conservation in Amphibians and reptiles at the University of Antioquia. She is active member of the Herpetology group of Antioquia. During the last five years she has worked with freshwater turtles in Colombia to assess their status and propose conservation and management strategies. Her interest is to continue with pioneering studies and investigation that serve the base to enlarge the knowledge of freshwaterspecies and to involve the communities in the process.

Andreas Rytz is the ESI Communication Officer. Growing up in Switzerland, he has been exposed to humanitarian and environmental causes from on early age on. After absolving a Swiss Business College, he moved to the United States where he studied Communications and Advertising. During the technology boom he moved to San Francisco where he worked as Senior Web Designer for an online entertainment company; already during that time he collaborated with ESI president Pierre Fidenci on small environmental projects. Since 2004 he has been working as an independent web designer and online marketing consultant for various organizations and projects. In 2005 Andreas joined with Pierre Fidenci in the creation of ESI.

Adriana Restrepo Isaza is a biologist with strong field and technical experience. She has spent considerable time conducting research including ecology and genetic of endangered species in remote places of Colombia. Adriana graduated from the Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia. She gave many talks at symposiums in Greece, Mexico, and Colombia. She actively participated in the conservation program of the leatherback turtle in the Chocó region of Colombia.

Tomas Diagne was born in Senegal in 1970 and developed rapidly as kid a passion for nature. In 1998, he became laureate of the prestigious Rolex Award for Enterprise. He has been referred to as the "backbone" to save the spurred tortoise in Senegal. He is a member of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission (SSC). He has worked with the World Wildlife Fund and Nature Tropicale to protect endangered wildlife in Africa. Recently, he has participated in saving the African manatees along the Senegal River. At ESI, Tomas develops and directs conservation projects for the Sahel and upper Guinea regions of West Africa.

Reymar Reyes Castillo is a botanist, ethnobotanist, and conservation forester with strong field experience. Recently, he served as a supervisor for terrestrial flora surveys under survey and research component of ECAN Zoning-SEMP, PCSDS funded by Japan Bank International Cooperation. He is the research coordinator of the Biodiversity Center for Research and Conservation of the Palawan State University while teaching various courses in biology and environmental sciences. He is currently conducting ethnobotanical resources inventory and documentation by analyzing the plant utilization and conservation practices of the Tagbanuas, Bataks and Pala’wans Indigenous people under the United Nation Development Program.

Franck Mackoundi is an avid African conservationist! Born in Congo, at his young age he was already involved in conserving the biodiversity of his country. He was deeply involved in various projects to protect chimpanzees, marine turtles, and other endangered wildlife and habitats of Congo. Franck is the ESI coordinator for Congo where he is combating the bushmeat crisis that kills hundred of endangered species such as gorillas. He is also working on developing a long-term environmental education program.

Madeleine van der Heyden is an artist, photographer, and ecologist who has spent extensive time evaluating natural resources and surveying and handling endangered plants and wildlife in habitat types ranging from desert in the southwest to swamps in the southern U.S. Madeleine was born and raised in Switzerland but received her B.S. in Biology and a B.S. in Environmental Sciences in California. She has been concerned with environmental issues since her early teenage age and has volunteered as a research assistant and interpreter for the U.S. Forest Service twice for a total of six months. Now at ESI, she is using her artistic skills and scientific expertise to support our conservation awareness, educational activities, and projects on illegal trade of endangered species.

Julia Ligneres has a master in environmental laws and she is the co-founder of Ethicalia, a small consulting firm on sustainable development in France. Julia is the President of ESI Congo and she is deeply involved with the management and conservation strategies of ESI in Congo. Her expertise in eco-tourism and alternative energy is a great asset for ESI alternative livelihood support program to foster strong conservation results. Julia provides quality control for our projects in Congo and has a incredible passion for saving endangered biodiversity.

Isabelle de Montrichard has a master in environmental laws and she is the co-founder of Ethicalia, a small consulting firm on sustainable development in France. Isabelle has been involved in animal welfare and conservation since an early age. At ESI, she provides technical and management support for our projects in Congo including education and environmental laws. Together with Julia, she is playing a crucial role in the growth of ESI Congo since its creation. She has a strong ties with all our local staff and communities.

Eric Tchindongo is a conservationist born in the hearth of the rainforest at Conkouati National Park in the Republic of the Congo. He studied geography and environment at the university and then went back to his home town to save endangered animals and the rainforest. At ESI, Eric is a field biologist with strong experience in wildlife conservation and communities. Eric promotes the positive role of the ancestral habits and customs in conservation and to consider great apes as tutelary ancestors. More can be learned about Eric here!

Alexandre Leborque is an anthropologist and filmmaker. His first anthropological research focused on the Molbog society in southern Philippines near Borneo. He studied in depth the habitat, songs, and their symbolic relationships with humans and cosmos. As a film producer, his last documentary “Out of Bounds” received many awards around the world and was presented in more than 20 countries. He received a special award from the International Environmental Film Festival in 2006. He is also the founder of the Societé CAP Films. At ESI, Alexandre provides anthropological and documentary expertise to ensure success of our conservation projects involving indigenous people.

Elmer Galfo Gadot has experience with forest surveying and mapping, Geographic Information System, land resources management, field documentation, and communication. He recently conducted flora resources inventory of landscape and seascape assessment of selected catchments in the western side of Mt. Mantalingahan, Southern Palawan funded by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and Palawan State University.

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