Pride in Our Prides is the flagship program of the CLAWS Conservancy and its field operation is in the capable hands of an extraordinary team. Dr. Florian ‘Flo’ Weise started with PiOP in May of 2016 and since joining the team he has been following up on lion conflicts, alerting the community to approaching lions, interviewing the influential village leaders and keeping our field staff running at full capacity. He is constantly tinkering and adapting our program to maximize our efficiency and impact in the communities. Flo is able to drive Pride in Our Prides because he designed a similar program on commercial farms in Namibia while studying leopards, cheetahs and hyenas. Over 7 years he built a program from a handful of cooperative farmers to a network of over 100 that received alerts and discussed predator conflict strategies with him. Not only does Flo collect and manage our vast data sources, but he brings together collaborators that develop cutting edge analytical tools to keep us at the forefront of predator conservation. When he is not pushing the leading edge of our lion conservation work, he is working on various research initiatives with cheetahs and African wild dogs.
‘Pro’ was born in Eretsha, one of our focal villages. Though we initially thought Pro stood for “Professional” he told us that his name is Mathata Tomeletso. Mathata, you may know from the song Hakuna Matata (No Worries), can mean ‘Problems’, hence his shortened name. Pro worked closely with Eric LeFlore as the first field assistant on the project. He is well connected in the community, works very hard and has a knack for learning new field techniques. He currently manages the team that builds our lion-proof livestock enclosures, conducts interviews with community members when livestock are lost to predators and learns all that he can about computers, GPS use and data entry. When asked what he would like from America, he asked for books on management. He certainly has plans for his future. Though Pro has a professional guiding license that could bring him a larger paycheck he said, “I want to learn about research and see where this rabbit will rot”. When asked for an explanation of the latter he said that it is a local saying that means you want to see it all the way to the end. He is committed to our work and shows a willingness to work long hours.
Thank you Flo and Pro for your incredible abilities and commitment to this program. It is growing by leaps and bounds because of your continued investment!