A world-class team of National Geographic explorers, wildlife biologists, naturalists, and conservationists will accompany this unique expedition to share their knowledge and insights with you and bring each destination to life. Listed below are experts joining this trip.
A 28-year veteran of the National Geographic Society, Rob Hernandez began as a senior editor for National Geographic magazine and later founded its International Publishing division, which publishes magazines, books, and other media in more than 35 languages. Raised in Cuba and Spain, Rob spent his early career doing ecological field research and documenting the wildlife and culture of the world’s more remote places. He filmed a television special on lions in Namibia, explored the wilderness of New Guinea, journeyed to rarely visited corners of South America, and circumnavigated the Indian and Pacific Oceans in a small sailboat for 2 years. Rob has traveled extensively across the globe, and he looks forward to sharing his knowledge of and passion for the world's wildlife with National Geographic travelers. Rob will accompany the entire expedition.
Marine biologist Sylvia Earle is an Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society. Named one of Time magazine's "Heroes for the Planet" in 1998, Sylvia has pioneered research on marine ecosystems. She is former chief scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and author of more than 125 scientific and popular publications. Sylvia led the Sustainable Seas Expeditions, documenting life in the U.S. National Marine Sanctuaries. Today, Sylvia and her SEAlliance have partnered with the Geographic on Mission Blue, a global initiative aimed at restoring health and productivity to the ocean by inspiring people to care and act, reducing the impact of fishing, and promoting the creation of marine protected areas (MPAs). Sylvia will join the expedition in the Maldives.
Ami Vitale's journey as a photographer and filmmaker has taken her to more than 85 countries. She is a Nikon Ambassador and a contract photographer for National Geographic magazine, and her photographs have been commissioned by nearly every important international publication. Her work has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world. For most of her career, Ami has covered topics related to nature and wildlife and their intersection with human poverty, health, and security. She has covered human-elephant conflict in India, the poaching of snow leopards in India and Bhutan, and man-eating lions in East Africa for National Geographic Adventure. Ami is currently working on a story about wildlife in Africa and the indigenous communities on the frontlines of the poaching wars, and another about China releasing captive giant pandas back into the wild. Ami is a founding member of Ripple Effect Images, a collective of scientists, writers, photographers and filmmakers with a mission of creating powerful stories illustrating the very specific issues women in developing countries face.
National Geographic Emerging Explorer Elizabeth Lonsdorf began researching primates as an undergraduate student at Duke University. Later, while completing a Ph.D. at the Jane Goodall Institute's Center for Primate Studies at the University of Minnesota, she spent several months each year studying wild chimpanzees at Tanzania's Gombe Stream National Park. She returns annually to Gombe to maintain a research program focused on chimpanzee health and infant development. In addition to serving on the faculty of Franklin & Marshall College, Elizabeth is the Vice President for Education and Outreach for the International Primatological Society. Elizabeth will join the expedition in Rwanda.
Conservationist and National Geographic grantee Marc Brody conserves giant pandas and their habitat, helping restore the balance between people and nature in and around China’s Wolong Nature Reserve. Marc has worked with Wolong since 2000 and serves as the reserve’s senior advisor for conservation and sustainable development. He founded Panda Mountain, an NGO entrusted by the Wolong Administration to manage a conservation and sustainability training and learning center and promote green livelihoods for indigenous villagers. Marc has also served as president of the U.S.-China Environmental Fund for 20 years. When not in Wolong, he is actively restoring an oak savanna and prairie on his land near Madison, Wisconsin. Marc will join the expedition in China.
Naturalist, conservationist, and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Mike Fay walked more than 2,000 miles through intact forest in Congo and Gabon surveying trees, wildlife, and human activity during his Africa Megatransect. That historic walk resulted in the protection of more than 11 percent of Gabon’s land and the creation of 13 national parks in the country. Mike followed this up with his eight-month Africa Megaflyover—an aerial survey that produced more than 100,000 images now visible on Google Earth—and a year-long, 1,800-mile hike along the range of the California redwood. Currently Mike is creating a marine park system in Gabon and working to curb illegal fishing. Mike will join the expedition in South Africa.
Wildlife biologist and National Geographic Emerging Explorer Luke Dollar first came to Madagascar as an undergraduate field assistant in 1994, and went on to conduct more than a decade’s research there on the island’s fossa—a catlike nocturnal mammal—and the lemurs on which it preys. The rate of habitat loss he witnessed convinced him that scientists must find effective ways to inform and influence public policy, and quickly, if wildlife conservation is to succeed. Luke now manages the Society’s Big Cats Initiative, and will join the expedition in Madagascar.
Conservation biologist and National Geographic Emerging Explorer Krithi Karanth received the Society’s 10,000th research, conservation, and exploration grant to support her work in India’s Western Ghats. She works on conservation issues such as human-wildlife conflict, land use change, people-wildlife relationships, and styles of tourism that threaten India's elephants, leopards, and tigers. The daughter of a renowned tiger biologist and Indian conservationist, Krithi has accompanied field expeditions since she was just a year old, and spotted her first leopard at the age of three. She earned her Ph.D. from Duke and a Masters degree from Yale. Krithi will join the expedition in Nepal.