Meet Our Experts:
An Interview with Laly Lichtenfeld
Meet National Geographic grantee and wildlife conservationist Laly Lichtenfeld. In partnership with National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative, Laly launched the Build a Boma campaign, which has crowd-funded innovative solutions to protect African livestock and wildlife. Students on the Tanzania Expedition take part in this effort alongside Laly and her team.
What is your favorite part of your job as a conservationist? How would you describe the field of conservation?
I love being out in remote places, seeing the incredible wildlife and working with local communities to help improve conditions for all. Conservation is a complex field that requires an intimate knowledge of not only ecology/biology but also an interest in human behavior, psychology, politics, and much more.
What has been your most exciting project with National Geographic?
My most exciting project with National Geographic has been working to save the big cats (lions, leopards and cheetah) of Northern Tanzania.
What is an important lesson you have learned throughout your travels and work as a scientist?
I have learned to sit and listen to the people around me and to not take rural communities for granted; there is an incredible amount of knowledge in those communities that can be used to improve conservation efforts and make them relevant to the people on the ground.
What aspect of Tanzania are you most excited to introduce to students?
The varied geography, wildlife and human communities – Tanzania is incredibly diverse with something new to experience around every corner.
Do you have a favorite place to explore in Tanzania?
I love my backyard: Tarangire National Park.
What advice would you give to aspiring young scientists?
Find questions that you are passionate about and then explore every aspect of them.
Do you have a hero or mentor?
I think George Schaller is incredible in terms of his passion, experience, interest and commitment to the natural world. I hope to be traveling a similar path when I am his age.
Do you have any advice for our students heading out on a National Geographic Student Expedition this summer?
Learn as much about the country you will be visiting ahead of time. This will greatly enrich your experience and your ability to engage with the people you meet along the way.