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 travelled 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.
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.
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.
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: