MEET OUR TEAM
DR. GREG RASMUSSEN
Executive Director, Founder
Dr. Gregory Rasmussen may have been born in London, but it is a fair assumption that his heart now lies in Zimbabwe, the country to which he and his parents moved when Greg was 9 years old. After attending boarding school there and departing Africa's shores for a spell in the merchant navy, Greg returned to Zimbabwe to pursue his childhood passion for the natural world. Since 1987, this indefatigable conservationist has been working for the betterment of the painted dog, even surviving a near-fatal plane crash in 2003 (featured in the documentary series I Shouldn't Be Alive) to continue his vital research, which as of today is one of the longest studies of the species ever conducted.
Greg currently serves as the Executive Director and Founder of the Painted Dog Research Trust (PDRT), an organisation dedicated to the long-term research of painted dogs (also known as African wild dogs) in Zimbabwe and other range states, including neighbouring Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. The PDRT also provides training, mentoring, field work opportunities and financial support to Zimbabwean graduate students, as well as rangers and biologists who wish to contribute to the protection of Zimbabwe's wildlife. By doing so, Greg and his team hope to inspire a new generation of passionate, motivated and field-competent conservation biologists.
As prolific in community outreach initiatives as he is in scientific journals, Greg believes in a holistic approach to conservation that encompasses all stakeholders in a particular area, including farmers, schoolchildren and local communities as a whole. Working under the belief that people will conserve what they love, Greg frequently travels overseas and to villages and ranching areas around Zimbabwe to raise awareness of the painted dog, an endangered species that once ranged throughout much of Sub-Saharan Africa but whose population has now plummeted to barely 1400 mature individuals and perhaps as few as 5000 individuals.
To learn more about Dr. Ramussen's relationship with and the importance of painted dogs, read "An interview with Dr. Greg"
PDRT CONSERVATION TEAM
Lead Field Technician (Greg’s right hand man)
Conducts field data collection and assisting with all capture/collar operations for painted dogs and other wildlife.
Oversees deployment of vehicles and logistics for field operations, such as obtaining National Parks Department or Forestry Commission approvals, as well as equipment and vehicle commissioning and decommissioning.
Key liaison among local communities, local labor work force, and students.
Advises Executive Director on appropriate cultural practice.
Provides park rangers and tourists with information on PDRT and the important conservation issues associated with painted dogs.
Management of painted dog sample and data collection storage.
Training of personnel in adapting new construction/conservation practices.
Completed two intensive international veterinary technical trainings in order to better assist Dr. Rasmussen.
Head of Education Department
A social biodiversity conservationist who has nearly 20 years of experience in community conservation education programs.
Plays a fundamental role in enhancing public awareness on the environment through teaching students from local schools and community members about environmental conservation and interpreting the natural world.
Provides strong academic leadership, manages and develops the department to ensure it achieves the highest possible standards of excellence in all its activities.
Holds a Bachelor of Education Degree in Agriculture from Solusi University and a diploma in Education with a specialization in Agriculture from Gweru Teachers College.
Through the PDRT exchange programme, he completed the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) training course in Effective Program Design in the United States.
Oriented to a number of American zoo conservation education programs, Zulu travelled to and learned from the Oklahoma City Zoo in Oklahoma, Blank Park Zoo in Iowa, and Niabi Zoo in Illinois.
Previously worked with Painted Dog Conservation and Hwange Lion Research Extirpation.
IAN CHIMBIPO NGWENYA
Head of Construction Department
Holds several qualifications from the Zimbabwe Ministry of Higher Education and Manpower Development which are related to the construction industry.
Registered First-Class builder under the National Employment Council of the Zimbabwean Construction Industry.
Works to expand his knowledge and experience in structural engineering and ecologically designed and constructed buildings.
Ian works closely with Greg in the logistics and execution of structures ranging from bushcamp, student and staff housing, student centre, as well as numerous above and below grade concrete water tanks.
Training locally hired construction workers in new means and methods.
Specializing in finish masonry, Ian’s artistic touch can be seen in the stonework of the water harvesting system flume, the bushcamp column bases and the student entrance.
Previously worked for several non-governmental organizations as head of construction department and for a number of construction companies as building supervisor.
Assists Dr. Greg with logistics, keeping track of meeting times and locations, visitor schedules, etc., (a job similar to herding cats).
Responsible for maintaining the PDRT Operations Manual
Tracks vehicle fuel usage
Assures staff and students adhere to all PDRT policies.
Loswitha’s story is exactly what inspires PDRT to continue its work. This bright student was brought to our attention by the assistant headmaster at our local secondary school. Loswitha’s mother, a single parent with four younger children, was not able to afford A Level school fees. It was agreed Loswitha would spend one year at PDRT fully immersed in science, ecology, and even hands-on construction activities showing her commitment to the programme. Donors were found to finance her A Level education at a boarding school with the promise to continue their support to university if she applied herself. We are so very proud of the first female student from our community to attend university. She is now a graduate of Chinoyi University, Zimbabwe in Biological Sciences. We are delighted to have Loswitha with us spearheading the Pocket Forest Project as a committed member of the PDRT pack and a conservation advocate.
Alice initially joined PDRT as a third-year attachment student from the University of Zimbabwe and has since graduated with a BSc in Biological Sciences. With a career objective of becoming a professional and community role model, and socializing as one of her hobbies, these have melded together to produce a dedicated, exuberant young woman who has now returned to PDRT for intensive entomology research and inspiring our undergrad students.