Johanna (Jo) was born and raised in Poolesville, Maryland, USA and attended West Virginia University earning a Bachelor’s degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Management with a minor in Conservation Ecology. Growing up on a farm raising goats, horses, hogs, lambs, and Texas Longhorn cattle, Jo has always had a passion for working with all animals, but big cats have always been her favourite. While in grade school, she worked as an apprentice dog trainer training and working with Livestock Guardian Dogs. In high school, Jo volunteered at a local zoo working on creating effective enrichment programs for their big cats.
During university she worked as an intern for National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative where she fell even more in love with research and work being done in the field, on the front-line. Jo made it her life’s goal to work on carnivore conservation in Africa. After college, she worked with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department through Frostburg State University doing home range assessment surveys for mesocarnivores. Her love of big cats sent her on the zoo career path where so worked for four years as a big cat and lead ungulate zookeeper at Nemacolin Woodland Resort’s Zoo and then at the Pittsburgh Zoo in Pennsylvania, USA.
Jo was offered the opportunity to move to Namibia to work for the Cheetah Conservation Fund in August 2016 as the assistant operations manager as well as the intern and volunteer supervisor. At CCF, she assisted in the daily operations of CCF, trained dogs for the Scat Detection Dog Programme, and supervised volunteers, interns and staff. Jo moved to South Africa in June of 2017 to work for Panthera as a research technician for Panther’s Leopard Programme. She analyses camera trap data to identify species and individuals, updates the CameraCATalogue website and communicates with its citizen scientists, develops field guides for online use, graphic design, and codes statistical interfaces using R. When working in the field, she sets up and runs monitoring surveys in remote locations throughout Southern Africa for an ongoing leopard census project. Starting in January 2018, Jo has begun to work on a MSc project through the University of Cape Town looking at factors affecting population densities and occupancy of servals in South Africa.