Promoting Coexistence

Lion Guardians has been conserving lions and preserving cultures since 2006.

Who We Are

Lion Guardians is a conservation organization dedicated to finding and enacting long-term solutions for people and lions to coexist. Founded in 2006, Lion Guardians began with five Guardians in one small area within the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem. Currently, there are Lion Guardians-based projects successfully running in several countries and in our core area of Amboseli, our operations span over close to a million acres. We are committed to workable solutions that are scientifically-driven and transferable across areas.

What We Do

Lion Guardians’ conservation model is adaptable to various cultures and wildlife species. Founded on local value systems, community participation and science, it is based on a decade of research and rigorous measures of success. Our approach involves recruiting young, traditional Maasai and other pastoralist warriors to learn the skills needed to effectively mitigate conflicts between people and wildlife, monitor lion populations, and help their own communities live with lions. By actively engaging in our solutions-based conservation model, people who were once lion killers are transformed into lion protectors.

Our Core Values

Participation and community-oriented: The participation of local communities as full and active partners in all of our work.

Trust: Relationships of trust within our organization, with our partners, our donors and supporters, and with all of the communities with whom we work.

Science-based: Conservation programs based on science, and the integration of social and biological sciences, including traditional and indigenous knowledge.

Valuing co-existence: Strong links between local cultural values and conservation programmatic elements.

Collaborative: Partnerships and collaborations are key to achieving long-lasting and broad conservation and livelihood impacts.

Where We Work

Over the years, our sphere of influence has grown over ten-fold. From one site in Kenya to multiple countries and to thousands of people.

Our core site in the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem spans over 3,600 sq. kms. Here our Guardians actively mitigate conflict and monitor lions living in non-protected areas.

In addition, we have scaled our impact by co-developing Lion Guardians based projects across Africa and training other organizations on various aspects of the Lion Guardians model.

Meet The Team

Luke Maamai

Program Manager

A dangerous encounter with a buffalo led Luke to write off wildlife many years ago, but after more than a decade with Lion Guardians, his commitment to peaceful coexistence is incredibly strong. Luke has extensive experience in social science research, lion mortality methodology, overseeing Guardians, and engaging in field operations.
Maria Saruni

Trainer and Camp Manager

Maria started as a camp chef, but has quickly worked her way up and now not only serves as the Lion Guardians head chef, but also performs data entry and supervises camp facilities and procurement. She is inspired by Leela, Stephanie, and the rest of the Lion Guardians team, and is committed to further improving the organization.
Nadia de Souza

Research Scientist

Nadia has focused on lion research and conservation in human-dominated landscapes since 2016 . As Lion Guardians’ Research Scientist, she carries out monitoring activities and works with data to ensure that the organization’s conservation interventions are supported by strong science.
Pauline Kamau


Pauline is the financial controller of Lion Guardians. She has eight years’ experience in finance and accounting and is dedicated to building financial knowledge at all levels in the organisation to ensure financial sustainability.
Eric Ole Kesoi

Community Manager

Dr. Stephanie Dolrenry

US-based Director of Science

Stephanie’s passion for conservation, her wealth of experience in science, and her eye for innovation have been driving forces in Lion Guardians’ mission and agenda. She is our Co-Founder and Director of Science, and she heads the organization’s rigorous and successful research program.
John Merishi

Office and Data Systems Coordinator

Merishi has long been involved in the development of strong, sustainable communities, and began to apply his experience to conservation when he joined Lion Guardians in 2015. Today, Merishi supervises dozens of Guardians and works closely with local communities to improve dialogue and increase awareness of conservation issues.
Dr. Leela Hazzah

Executive Director

Leela grew up listening to her family’s stories of lions roaring, and has dedicated her life to helping bring lions and other wildlife back from the brink. She is Lion Guardians’ Co-Founder and Executive Director, and her commitment to including and empowering communities has been key to the organization’s incredible impacts.
Philip J. Briggs

Lion Monitoring Manager

Philip grew up in the Amboseli ecosystem and recalls tales of Maasai warriors killing lions from as early as the age of five. Having only seen dead lions as a child, Philip’s passion to save lions and find ways for coexistence with local communities is a vision that drives his work in the field as our Lion Monitoring Manager.
Salisha Chandra

Director of Strategy Coordination & Knowledge

After working in the corporate business world for 15 years, Salisha returned to her birthplace of Kenya to make a difference in conservation. Today, she puts her passion and experience to work as Lion Guardians’ Director of Strategy and Knowledge Management, helping craft the organization’s path, scale its impact and ensure its sustainability.
Jeremiah Somita Purka

Assistant Biologist

Jeremiah started out with Lion Guardians as a day laborer tasked with the unglamorous job of digging latrines, but his dedication, drive, and eagerness were undeniable, and he quickly took on more and more responsibilities. In addition to being the camp and vehicle maintenance manager, Jeremiah now works as our Assistant Biologist, monitoring lions and collecting data in the field.
George Gituku

Finance and Admin Manager

Janet Onyango

Head of Communications

Janet Onyango has over 15 years' experience in journalism and communications. She has worked in tech, health and advocacy. She now applies that experience to conservation. She seeks out opportunities to tell the stories of Lion Guardians' conservation model and its impact.

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