Research house

About us

The Ngorongoro Hyena Project is a long-term research project of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin, Germany. It was initiated in April 1996 by Dr. Oliver Höner, Dr. Bettina Wachter, Prof. Dr. Heribert Hofer and Dr. Marion East. Our research is done in close collaboration with the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority and various international research teams.

The team

Oliver HönerOliver Höner: Project co-founder and scientific head, and member of the IUCN Hyena Specialist Group. Belongs to both the Swiss and the Brazilian tribe.
Philemon NamanPhilemon Naman: Assists the project since 2015. Collects demographic data and samples and takes care of our equipment. Belongs to the Iraqw tribe.
Eve DavidianEve Davidian: Joined the hyena team in 2010. Studies dispersal behaviour and the interplay between the social environment, stress and reproductive tactics in hyena males. Belongs to both the French and the US American tribe.
09_05_About us-Alexandre Courtiol_redAlexandre Courtiol: Head data scientist. Works with the hyena team since 2013 on various topics, including sexual selection, mate choice, sexual conflict – from a safe distance (6536.9 km) and sheltered by his computer screen and keyboard. Belongs to the French tribe.
09_05_About us-Larissa Arantes_redLarissa Arantes: Joined the team in 2022 to work on population genomics of hyenas. She is generating high‐density genomic marker data for the whole population across the study period to quantify the evolutionary and ecological impact of current environmental change for the hyena population. Belongs to the Brazilian tribe.
09_05_About us-Arjun DheerArjun Dheer: Joined the hyena team in 2017. Studies hyena adaptability to anthropogenic change and human-carnivore conflict for his PhD. Member of the IUCN Hyena Specialist Group. Belongs to the US American tribe.
Elisa DonatiElisa Donati: Joined in March 2020. Recently graduated master student in ecology interested in all eco-ethological topics that can be studied with some modelling and math. For once spotted without her laptop. Belongs to the Italian Tribe.
09_05_About us-Liam BaileyLiam Bailey: Joined the project in 2018 as a data science underling. Currently studying demographic changes in growing hyena clans. Hails from the Australian tribe.
Zimai LiZimai Li: Joined the project in 2020. Lived a dispersal Erasmus master’s student life before settling down for female mate choice and inbreeding avoidance. Belongs to the Chinese tribe.
Dagmar Thierer and Stephan KarlDagmar Thierer and Stephan Karl: Support the Hyena Project from our base in Berlin by performing paternity analyses in the lab and helping with the administrative load. Belong to the German tribe.
Tegela Karya and Loltogom OltumoTegela Karya and Loltogom Oltumo: Joined the project in 2007. Guard the research cabin, assist in taking care of the equipment, and help communicating and setting up collaborations with rangers and Maasai from nearby villages. Belong to the Maasai tribe.

Former team members (in alphabetical order)

Malvina Andris (technical assistant), Nelly Boyer (technical assistant), Nicole Burgener (technical assistant), Renita Danabalan (postdoctoral associate), Noon Bushra Eltahir (student helper), Anne Hertel (scientific helper), Lekoko Kimaay (assistant), Berit Kostka (technical assistant), Michelle Lindson (technical assistant), Angelika Mai (technical assistant), Tapwaa Ndooto (assistant), Sylvia Schulz van Endert (scientific helper), Melanie Szameitat (scientific helper), Colin Vullioud (scientific helper), Bettina Wachter (senior scientist and Project co-founder), Kerstin Wilhelm (technical assistant).

The research station

Our research station is located on the Eastern rim of the Crater. It was built by the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) close to a rangers camp and is situated close to Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge; the nearest Maasai village is about 5 km away. Equipment and food can be bought a one-hour drive away in Karatu.

The station is run with solar power and equipped with computers, printers, scanners etc.; access to the internet comes via a satellite dish. One room is dedicated to sample processing and storage, and is equipped with a centrifuge, a liquid nitrogen container and equipment to perform dissections.