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Paola Bouley

Paola Bouley

Lion Researcher


I was born and grew up in South Africa and am an ecologist and project director committed to science-based restoration and endangered species recovery.


At the age of 10 I knew I wanted to dedicate myself to wild cat conservation. Of course back then I never imagined I'd see the day when the African lion would be sliding towards extinction.  Working towards the protection and recovery of lions is a call of duty and a passion for me, one which I don't for a second take for granted.  


I received an M.S. in Ecology and Systematic Biology from the Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies & San Francisco State University (2005) and a B.S. with honors in Biology from University of California at Santa Cruz (2001).  Plans are underway to begin my PhD in Gorongosa. My permanent home-base is with my husband on the coast of North-Central California. 


I first heard about Gorongosa National Park from a colleague in a small bush airport in the Luangwa Valley on my way home after a season researching large carnivores.  I was moved so deeply by what I heard and subsequently learned that just a few months later I found myself on the ground in GNP launching Projecto Leões da Gorongosa – Gorongosa's first lion research and recovery effort in more than 4 decades.  I've been captivated ever since.


The decade ahead will be pivotal for the future of lions – whether we save them or whether we lose them in the wild forever will depend on what we can collectively achieve.   And Gorongosa – and Mozambique overall - will for sure play a role and be part of this story. 


In May of 2012 I founded Projecto Leões da Gorongosa and currently serve as its Senior Researcher.  The work I undertake on behalf of lions is also supported by Princeton University where I am a Research Associate in Dr. Rob Pringle's lab. 


I oversee all monitoring, capacity-building and strategic conservation efforts focused on lions in partnership with GNP's scientific, conservation and senior management teams.  I also work closely with the media team to document and share the story of Gorongosa's lions with the world.


Gorongosa – its beauty, its resilience, its lions, and its people - inspires me with tremendous hope.  This Park 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 wildlife and people.  It's a privilege to be part of such a historic conservation effort.