Paola Bouley

The decades ahead will be pivotal for the future of wild lions in Africa – populations have declined drastically across the continent, and whether we save them or whether we lose them will depend on what we can all collectively achieve on-the-ground over the next few years. 

The Gorongosa Ecosystem– its beauty, its resilience, its lions, and its people – inspires me with tremendous hope; I believe we can help nurture a recovery of this lion population.  The Park at the core of this landscape – and the team at the helm of this visionary Park restoration project – is a living, breathing example of what great things can be achieved when people join forces for the benefit and well-being of future generations of both wildlife and people.  It’s a privilege to be part of such a historic conservation effort and our work would not be possible without the support of the Gorongosa Restoration Project, USAID Mozambique, National Geographic’s Big Cat Initiative, the Zoo Boise Conservation Fund and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). 

My background: I was born and grew up in South Africa, completed my academic training in the US, and am now based full-time in Mozambique.  I am an ecologist and conservationist dedicated to the recovery of lions, large carnivores and their co-existence with human communities in the Gorongosa Ecosystem of Central Mozambique.  

In May of 2012 I co-founded Projecto Leões da Gorongosa and I direct research, capacity-building and strategic conservation efforts focused on large carnivores in partnership with the Park’s scientific, conservation and senior management teams.  In 2015 we launched WildCam Gorongosa – a global, citizen-science initiative in partnership with HHMI.  Our scope and team expanded in 2016 to encompass all large-carnivores in Gorongosa, including leopard, hyaena and wilddog.  

PLG was proud to support the first Mozambican women to ever work hands-on with lions in the wilderness, Celina Alfredo Dias and Domingas Aleixo -both born and raised in Vila Gorongosa, the largest community in the Park’s buffer-zone.  In 2016 we launched Lion Anti-Poaching Patrols of which 4 of Gorongosa’s first-ever women scouts are core team members.

Academic summary: B.S. in Biology (2001) at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and M.S. in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology (2005) at the Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies, San Francisco State University.