Staff

DENIS NDELOH-ETIENDEM, Ph.D.
Consulting Director of Great Ape Field Research

Born in Fontem, in the Southwest Province of Cameroon, Denis Ndeloh-Etiendem received his undergraduate degree from the University of Buea, Cameroon, in 2004. After working with local NGOs on great ape conservation projects in the Cross-Sanaga region of his homeland, he undertook graduate studies in Human Ecology at the Vrije Universiteit, Brussels, Belgium. He earned his M.Sc. in 2008 and his Ph.D. in 2013.

Growing up in rural Cameroon, Denis learned about gorillas from his father who hunted primates and other wildlife as a source of protein and income for his family. His father narrated stories about his encounters with primates – stories which were often imbued with superstition, power, totemic relationships, and empathy. Denis owes his interest in the study and conservation of gorillas to these early experiences. Given this background, Denis understands that the root causes of current threats to gorillas are multifaceted with economic, social, cultural and ecological dimensions. He believes that to overcome these threats we must forge real and lasting partnerships with the local people who live in gorilla habitats, as it is in their hands that the survival of the great apes lies. Instead of criminalizing and disparaging the people for their traditional lifestyles, Denis believes we must listen to their stories, understand their needs, and encourage them to develop synergistic relationships with the apes for mutual benefit.

As Director of Great Ape Field Research at The Gorilla Foundation, Denis will seek to develop and sustain strategic conservation education and research partnerships with organizations working in gorilla habitat countries. Key to these efforts will be to expand the reach of Koko and Michael’s message of interspecies empathy, while building scientific knowledge and practical solutions to the ecological requirements of gorillas and people living in threatened habitat. His decade of involvement with the most endangered gorilla sub-species, Cross River Gorillas, and their ecosystems in the Nigeria-Cameroon mountainous borders have imbued him with experience and knowledge that is crucial to the design of effective conservation plans in the region.

Before joining TGF, Denis worked as a graduate researcher and later as postdoctoral scientist at the Center for Research and Conservation of the Antwerp zoo in Belgium. He has received many awards for his groundbreaking work with the people and gorillas of Cameroon, including TGF’s Wildlife Protector Award in 2009-10. Denis lives with his wife Emesong and their two children, Ymke and Calin.

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The Gorilla Foundation / Koko.org
1733 Woodside Rd., Suite 330
Redwood City, CA, 94061
1-800-ME-GO-APE (634-6273)

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Our mission is to learn about gorillas by communicating with them, and apply our knowledge to advance great ape conservation, education, care and empathy.

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