During my 35 years career in the criminal justice chain in the Netherlands I have travelled to many countries. During one of my journeys to South Africa, about 10 years ago, as a program director from the Netherland Forensics Institute someone asked me if it ever crossed my mind to use forensic knowledge in the fight against wildlife crime. I hadn’t thought about it, but the idea never left my mind. A few months later I received an invitation to visit the Southern African Wildlife College in South Africa. There I learned about the volume, extent and the penetration of wildlife crime. That evening a rhino was shot near the college, during the night we heard a police helicopter searching for the calf. The next morning I went with the police to the crime scene and saw something that impressed me deeply. A poor rhino, devoured by hyenas and gushing blood out of the wound, the horn was taken away. There were no witnesses and no statements. What was interesting was that there were forensic traces all over the scenes and they were similar to the trace evidence on human crime scenes…what astonished me was the fact that few people knew or cared about these traces. The poachers will get away with the killing of this beautiful harmless animal. Immediately. I took the decision to do something about this and got the idea to build a Wildlife Forensic Academy in Africa.
That’s my mission! That’s what I’m going to do!
Dr. Greg Simpson has always had a passion for animals and health. He followed his dream and qualified as a veterinarian in South Africa, working in the United Kingdom, Central Asia and Africa. He continued his education with a Master degree in Public Health in Developing Countries at the London School of Hygiene and Medicine and a further masters in Wildlife Management at the University of Pretoria. This led him to developing a unique training clinic for veterinary students in a resource limited community outside the Kruger National Park, South Africa. Research and training were the focus of the clinic, which treated all domestic animals and wildlife in neighbouring reserves. The clinic not only made a difference to the local community through clinical service provision, but also school learner’s education and research. His research led to a Ph.D. on brucellosis in domestic animals, wildlife and humans. Dr. Simpson experienced the carcasses of poached rhinos and snaring of wildlife for bush meat, which created a desire to have an influence on wildlife crime.
He gains pleasure and peace from spending time exercising in nature.
Having traveled all over the world and visited numerous wildlife sites, I fell in love with nature and all its creatures. It is very difficult for me to understand why we humans keep on killing all kind of animals just for pleasure and/or decoration or even for unproven medical purposes. We only stop doing so once we killed the last one of its kind! This has to be stopped in order to preserve these animals for our generations to come and to stop us from disturbing nature’s harmony.
Being an entrepreneur and investor in various start-ups, it is not only about making money it is about making a change!
Susan holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Conservation Biology; Scientific Illustration from Arcadia University and a Master of Forensic Science degree from Drexel University College of Medicine. Currently she is the Program Director and an instructor for the first fully online certificate program in Wildlife Forensic Science and Conservation at the University of Florida, and travels extensively teaching workshops in wildlife forensics. In the past, she developed an animal forensic science track at Drexel University College of Medicine to offer as part of their graduate forensics program. She spent many years as Forensics Manager for the Pennsylvania SPCA, where she developed the first Forensics Unit and handled all forensic responsibilities associated with humane law enforcement animal cruelty cases. Susan is active in many professional organizations including the Society for Conservation Biology, Animal Behavior Society, Guild of Natural Science Illustrators, Association of Women in Forensic Science, American Academy of Forensic Science, and the International Association for Identification, and she currently serves on the Board of the International Veterinary Forensic Sciences Association. She also serves on the Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Animal Response Teams.
Lucas is an entrepreneur, researcher and teacher in computer technology for behavioural research. Trained as a biologist and fascinated by sensor technology and biometric analysis, he became a developer of tools for science, engineering and education. Lucas obtained his MSc degree in Biology from Leiden University and his PhD degree in Behavioural Ecology from Wageningen University. He is the founder and CEO of Noldus Information Technology, which develops software and integrated solutions for the study of animal and human behaviour, including tools for behavioural observation, video analysis, ultra-wideband and GPS tracking, and pattern recognition. Since its inception in 1989, he has been at the head of the company that now has offices in nine countries and 165 employees. He has always been closely involved with scientific research and has (co)authored more than 130 publications.
Lucas also holds a position as Professor of Behaviour, Information Technology and Innovation at Radboud University Nijmegen. Lucas serves on many boards and committees related to technology and innovation, including ICT for Brain, Body & Behaviour Foundation; Netherlands Academy of Technology and Innovation; International Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences; Industrial Advisory Committee Artificial Intelligence, Radboud University Nijmegen; Belmonte Arboretum Foundation; and Wageningen Ambassadors.
I’m the ex-director of the Bertha Centre at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business. I’m trained as a doctor in South Africa, graduating top of my class at the University of Cape Town’s Medical School, then completed a MSc Epidemiology/Public Health (London School of Hygiene; Tropical Medicine) and an MBA (University of Oxford). I assisted the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business to envision and establish a new centre for social innovation, where I’ve started as the Director of the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship from the end of 2011. I’ve worked in paediatric clinical medicine; led humanitarian and development programmes; built and worked on public-private partnerships on a global and national level; managed development funding; and consulted to UN institutions, country governments, for profit social businesses and non-profit social ventures. I’ve published in health and development and was the Contributing Editor to the MIT journal’s special edition on “Social Innovation in a Post Crisis World”, launched at the Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland in 2010.
I’ve been dedicated to stimulating social innovation in Africa and South Africa, helping to establish an environment in which social enterprises can thrive. To achieve this, I organized and hosted the first meeting on Social Entrepreneurship in Africa in 2008, co-founded the African Social Entrepreneurs Network in 2009 and am a Trustee of Unltd South Africa that supports early stage social ventures. He is a regular speaker at both local and international conferences, business and foundation events, and universities.
My conservation career started as a ranger in the Etosha National Park, Namibia, in 1982 and I have to date 38 years’ protected area management and wildlife law enforcement experience. In the latter part of my career with SANParks I, amongst my other responsibilities, drew up training content and presented wildlife law enforcement training courses to rangers within my area of operation. I also participated in developing, implementing, and conducting protected area integrity assessments at the various national parks during that time. My last 15 years up to the end of 2015 was spent completely focussed on wildlife crime intelligence gathering, investigation and combating organized wildlife crime to prevent it from reaching the national parks and I was trained accordingly. I have, since 2015, amongst other activities, worked as a service provider to the Wilderness Foundation Africa, conducting protected area management assessments in various game reserves and a World Heritage Site and provided reports on various wildlife crime issues of concern. Since 2017 I have also written course content and presented law enforcement courses as a part-time facilitator for the Centre for Law in Action, Faculty of Law, Nelson Mandela University. Recently, I produced a CITES training course for the Southern African Wildlife College which I have yet to present. I am a Professional Member of the Game Rangers Association of Africa.
Graduated in 1993 at University of Amsterdam (NL) in economics, and in 1995 at University of Wageningen (NL) in environmental sciences. After graduation at the Dutch fire academy as an fire officer, Marco worked at the Dutch Royal Navy as sub fire commander at the Dutch Royal Army as fire commander. Because of the experience as a diver and dive instructor a lot of experience has been gained in retrieving of drowned bodies and forensic research. He developed the diver course ‘underwater crime scene investigator diver’ to train divers, how to deal correctly with underwater crime scenes. Recently started with his PhD research in underwater body decomposition at the University of Maastricht.
Founder of the Underwaterpark Twiske, he developed a facility for scuba divers to visit the underwater world, and make acquaintance with the abundance of life under the surface. Offering internships to students, he educates these leaders of the future, to be the ambassadors of a sustainable future for our blue planet.
Wouter was working at 4exchange, a student recruitment agency, when he was approached by Andro and Greg to discuss WFA internship programs and needed student accommodation. That meeting took place at the end of 2018, just after when WFA found the right place to build the academy in South Africa, close to Cape Town. Part of WFA services is to find the internships for students once they have experienced and finished the forensic training. Being in Cape Town for more then 12 years and having been in the student recruitment industry for an equal amount of years, a trustworthy relationship was established. That lead to be actually being part of the WFA team by the end of 2020. Wouter has great passion and knowledge about specific African Wildlife due to his wildlife photography work and his tourism ventures in the Wildlife environment. Being able to be part of an organization protecting Wildlife and stopping these horrendous crimes feels like a natural calling.
Monique Verkerk graduated in 1995 from the University of Utrecht (at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine) in the Netherlands. She has been working as a veterinarian at a small animal clinic ever since, mainly committed to surgery. Between 2015 and 2020, she additionally worked for an emergency animal clinic in Amsterdam. In 2010, she met Dr. Frank van de Goot, a leading Dutch human forensic pathologist. Together they set up the animal forensic research foundation (Stichting Forensisch Dierenonderzoek) to investigate animal cruelty cases. She is still part of Dr. van de Goot’s (human) Search and Rescue Team today.
In 2018 she graduated from the University of Florida (MSc). She now holds a major in Veterinary Medical Sciences and is specialized in Veterinary Forensic Sciences. Because of her interest in the forensic field, she then proceeded with a master’s degree Wildlife Forensics and Conservation at the University of Florida, from which she expects to graduate in December 2021. Last Spring, she met with Andro Vos and was immediately enthusiastic about his plans to start the Wildlife Forensic Academy. She is eager to contribute to the success of this venture.
Dr. Stephanie Preston directs North American recruitment, promoting the mission of WFA to students and professionals who may find their calling in a degree in wildlife conservation supported by scientific education, training, and research. With a PhD in Veterinary Medicine, Stephanie has a lifelong commitment to research and teaching, inspired by once having been told by Nelson Bunker Hunt: “No one can take your education away and that makes it priceless.”
Beyond her professional acumen, Stephanie carries a passion for animals and how people interact with them, stemming from a storied career inside of thoroughbred horse racing as industry stakeholder, running the gamut from jockey to veterinary epidemiologist; but she has always been dedicated to horse safety, welfare and wellness.
Additionally, Stephanie is a mother who has found maternal inspiration in her work with WFA: “I see a great strength and determination in these mothers who naturally protect their offspring,” she explains. “and that inspires me towards serving and protecting those who are preyed upon.” Seeing the power of Africa’s most majestic animals is a constant revelation for her: “It’s a transformational experience to face a female elephant standing her ground and warning us not to come closer until all the calves have safely crossed behind her.”
Like all of us, she’s also moved by the modern pathos of these incredible creatures—for instance, via recurring news of White Giraffe poaching in Kenya. But rather than feel powerless, Stephanie Preston has been galvanized—inspired to recruit young minds, by offering them a unique and invaluable education in the burgeoning field of Wildlife Forensics.
Mr. Aby Joseph, He is an Internationally recognized forensic science consultant and trainer with 23 years of forensic industry experience with Abu Dhabi, Bahrain Police and Ministry of Justice Forensic Science Departments, His areas of expertise are crime scene investigation, biological evidence examination, DNA analysis and interpretation. He screened, analyzed and interpreted thousands of DNA cases including complex sexual assault, human remains, homicide evidence samples and post blast “Touch DNA” samples.
Mr Joseph holds a bachelor degree in Zoology and Master degree in Forensic science with DNA specialization and regularly undertakes in-depth training and continuing professional development in advanced forensic technologies and quality assurance. Mr. Joseph attended many international scientific conferences, delivered lectures and conducted training sessions for a variety of audiences. He has pursued additional professional training in numerous areas, including Advanced Crime Scene investigation, DNA interpretation, DNA Mixture analysis, ISO/IEC:17025 QMS, Laboratory Information management system (LIMS), He is a licensed Molecular Biologist (Ministry of Health, UAE) and a competent communicator of Toastmasters International. He serves as an advisor committee member of the Indian Association of Criminology and Forensic Science Association, His membership includes Chartered Society of forensic Science, UK, International Association for Property and Evidence, Inc. USA, Red cross Society of India. He Provide forensic training and technical expertise to equip lab scientists, police forces, justice officials, University students with skills and knowledge needed to establish effective forensic science improvement with advanced technologies and quality management systems based on international standards. He also provides consultancy services for
Dr. Ellen Denstedt is a veterinarian working and living in Ontario, Canada. Dr. Denstedt
completed her veterinary degree at the Ontario Veterinary College and spent the first two years after graduation in fast-paced emergency clinics in San Diego and Vancouver. Ellen has always had a strong passion and desire to work with wildlife, spending her time before veterinary school volunteering at several wildlife rehabilitation centers. She then went on to treat and care for hundreds of wild animals, including grizzly bears, moose, cougars and owls at the BC Wildlife Park as their staff veterinarian. Currently she is working as a veterinarian for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, overseeing large imports and exports and participating in national foreign animal disease investigations.
Her passion for wildlife has only grown stronger with time, and she recognizes the desperate need for veterinarians to participate in wildlife conservation efforts. This led her to begin a Masters in Wildlife Forensics and Conservation at the University of Florida. Ellen is deeply honoured to be a part of the Wildlife Forensic Academy, an organization that is vital to conserving wildlife around the world.
I’m the managing director of the Sustainable Scale-up Foundation and co-founder of the Smart Distance Lab and Ideas from Europe. My passion is to facilitate public-private collaboration to achieve the sustainable development goals. Only by working together we can fully utilize the power of the collective and tackle our global challenges.
I met Andro when scouting inspiring tech entrepreneurs for my TEDx show. His story resonated immensely and since then we have experienced some beautiful stage adventures. As soon as I heard that his dream of a wildlife forensic institute became a reality, I knew, I want to help! I am an avid nature and animal lover and want to contribute in as many ways as possible to preserve this beautiful life. The existence of wildlife is so important to all of us. As Mahatma Gandhi said: the greatness of a nation can be judged by the way it’s animals are treated.
Bob met Andro in early summer of 2021 to share ideas about the protection of rhinos. It was immediately obvious that those ideas had a sound base in the Wildlife Forensic Academy. Bob has offered to support the Academy in any way possible. In order to do that he brings with him an extensive network in private, financial and government organizations, as well as personal expertise in setting up new business and innovation.
Bob’s personal motivation is his conviction that nature is essential to the survival of the human being as a species. The alienation between nature, its wildlife, and people has to stop.
Martine, graduated at Utrecht University in 2001, traveled the world as a wildlife veterinarian to work with many species, including gorillas, rhinos and elephants. During her work she experienced the dreadful consequences of poaching and the illegal wildlife trade, and the importance of more forensic knowledge in the field. In South-Africa she anaesthetized, dehorned and/or translocated many rhinoceroses to prevent poaching. She also removed countless snares, treated wounded wildlife, hand-raised rhino orphans and assisted with the forensic research of poaching incidents. In the Gabonese rainforest she fought against the bush-meat trade and in a wildlife rescue center in Cameroon she took care of victims of the pet trade, including great apes and monkeys. She also did research to improve rhino anesthesiology and trained many international veterinarians and veterinary students in wildlife immobilizations and medicine.
Next to her current positions as a veterinarian at ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo and the AAP Rescue Centre for Exotic Animals she dedicates herself to wildlife conservation and education. She is a lecturer, public speaker and recently published her first book Over Leven in het Wild about our connection with nature and the urgent need for nature conservation. The WFA perfectly fits with Martine’s personal mission, because she is convinced that by educating, connecting and working together we can save our planet, our wildlife and ourselves.
Hanno first met Andro (WFA CEO) in 2014. Andro was visiting South Africa to establish a government level Dutch-South African programme aimed at crime fighting through sophisticated forensic methods. Hanno remained in touch with Andro over the years and was delighted to hear about the WFA project. Hanno will continue to offer business and technology support to the WFA and assist in selected project management focus areas.
From a personal point of view Hanno holds a strong belief that the relationship between humans and the environment is in the 11th hour. If urgent global action (with education) is not taken we as a specie are heading down an uncomfortable and irreversible path…
The Wildlife Forenisc Academy works in close cooperation with the University of Florida, William R Maples, Centre for Forensic Medicine. This cooperation enables the Wildlife Forensic Academy to provide the best possible knowledge and expertise. The University has seconded Dr. Susan Underkoffler to the WFA. She will head of forensics and will as well work as a lecturer.
Noldus Information Technology develops and delivers innovative software and hardware solutions and services for the measurement and analysis of behaviour. These allow our customers to advance their research, product development, training, and education. Noldus has offices across Europe, North America, and China and is represented by a worldwide network of distributors.
EOS Consulting consists of a group of companies providing solutions, service and products to a number of industries. Key sectors include telecommunication, information technology, electronic security, connectivity, education and general business services. Our growing client base stretches from South Africa to Western Europe and North America.
The Wildlife Forensic Academy is situated near the iconic city of Cape Town in the Western Cape, South Africa. Cape Town has won the best travel destination in Africa for the 7th time in 2019 since it first won in 1998. This area is unique in that it is not only Malaria free but also one of the best tourist destinations on the planet. You might think that Malaria medication would be a good option – these drugs however have a wide range of side effects making travel and living uncomfortable. Taking this medication won’t be necessary, unless you aim to visit areas outside the Western Cape.
The Academy will be easily accessible with many attractions and transportation hubs nearby.
Exciting activities include: