Project coordinator

John Doherty is a member of the Ecosystem Biology & Sustainability Research Group in the School of Biological Sciences at Queen's University Belfast. He has degrees from the Universities of Oxford and Pretoria and a postgraduate certificate of education from the University of Bristol. John has worked, studied and travelled extensively in eastern and southern Africa, the Indian subcontinent, the Iberian peninsula, Britain, Ireland, Norway and the High Arctic, focusing especially on species conservation, the management of protected areas, wildlife conservation within human-dominated landscapes and environmental education. He made his first study of giraffes at the age of 10 and he first worked in northern Kenya (as a carpenter) in 1978.

Project naturalist

Jacob Leaidura is an experienced observer of northern Kenya's richly diverse flora and fauna and he has an encyclopaedic knowledge of its spectacular birds. He is certified as a naturalist by the Kenya Professional Safari Guides Association and has worked in Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba National Reserves for more than 25 years. Jacob is a keen environmental educator, adept at passing on his enthusiasm for nature to his fellow Kenyans and to visitors to the country alike. As a small child, he was afraid of reticulated giraffes when he came across them in the bush on his long walk to school. Now, he knows hundreds individually and has become an expert on their behaviour and their social interactions. His personal favourite is known as DC10.

Project assistant

Laura Aoko has a diploma in social work from Zetech University in Nairobi. She has worked on health and gender issues in northern Kenya and has extensive experience of hospital administration and patient care. She is based in Laikipia, where large areas of private land are managed for wildlife conservation and where, in partnership with the landowners, RGP has recently begun to monitor an important subpopulation of reticulated giraffes. Laura joined the project in 2017 and works primarily with our database of known individuals. On her first visit to Samburu National Reserve, she met many giraffes whose names were familiar to her from the files but she also found a young female, previously unknown to the project, who is now called Aoko in her honour.

The wider team

The Reticulated Giraffe Project operates through a growing network of voluntary contributors, who send information to our base in Samburu from across the north of Kenya and, sometimes, from Ethiopia and Somalia. Many of those involved are listed here (A to K) and here (L to Z). Others who make key contributions to the project include: Carly Butynski (population dynamics), Matthew Chase (engineering), Addy de Jongh (telemetry), Robert Elwood (behavioural ecology), Hansjörg Kunc (bioacoustics), Jomba Lemasian (education), Michael Lesoipa (education), Hans-Georg and Inge Michna (information technology), Frédéric Mineur (genetics), Jennifer Robertson (finance), Ann-Helén Rønning (conservation), Michael Scantlebury (behavioural ecology) and Russell Seymour (taxonomy).

To search for your own name, click here (A to K) and here (L to Z)


The project team leads an exploration of Samburu National Reserve for children from the Samburu Community School in Loruko. Local people have very few opportunities to enjoy wildlife in the way that visitors do. Dala dala wa twiga (the giraffe bus) is an environmental-education partnership between RGP and the wardens and rangers of the National Reserve. Photo: Jacob Leaidura/Reticulated Giraffe Project


© Reticulated Giraffe Project 2008-2018