WITA's instructors are experienced wildlife officers, rangers, and prosecutors who have spent their careers combating illegal wildlife trafficking. They are outstanding in their work, but are also effective and engaging instructors who love to share their knowledge with and learn from other wildlife professionals
Chris was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. He served as a Military Policeman for the US Army in Europe, Central America, East Asia, and the Caribbean. Chris holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology with a Marine emphasis from Western Washington University and is now pursuing a his Master’s Degree in Business Administration, with a focus on Non-Profit Management. Chris has worked for Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for 14 years and has been a Senior Detective since 2009. He has extensive training in import/export, internet-based, and financial crimes, as well as ivory and special concern species. Chris also serves in the Criminal Investigation Division with the US Army Reserve and has successfully completed combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. His military investigative experiences include both investigations of felony-level crimes and counter-terrorism operations for which he received a Bronze Star Medal for his work with his Afghan counterparts. Chris is an incredible asset to WITA with his broad experience in all manner of criminal investigation techniques.
Shaibu Kadwere is a Game Ranger fighting wildlife poaching every day. He has vast experience in both planning and implementation of anti-poaching patrols and contributed to the arrest and prosecution of many poachers and wildlife traffickers.
A skilled birder and naturalist, Shaibu is certified in GIS, Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART), First Aid, and identification and investigation of ivory and ivory substitutes. Shaibu holds a Diploma in Environmental Management from Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Nature Guide Certificate from Southern Africa Wildlife College.
After a short career teaching secondary school, Shaibu joined the Malawi Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) in 2008. He has served as Parks and Wildlife Assistant and Zone Ranger in Kasungu National Park.
Shaibu was promoted to Senior Parks and Wildlife Assistant with Malawi DNPW in 2020 and was working in Lengwe National Park before joining African Parks as a Trainee Field Operations Manager in August 2022.
Jim Karani is an attorney who advises on criminal, animal and environmental law. He has a Masters in Law and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice at John Jay College, New York.
Before joining WITA, Jim headed the legal team at WildlifeDirect Kenya where he engaged in environmental public interest litigation and following up on major elephant ivory trafficking court cases. He also managed the Eyes in the Courtroom program in partnership with Kenya’s Judiciary to monitor and analyze the effectiveness of law enforcement in handling wildlife crime in courts. Data from this program was used to guide reforms in wildlife law and build capacity of law enforcement to significantly strengthen Kenya’s response to wildlife crime.
Jim has been directly involved in the training of over 1,000 police officers, investigators, prosecutors and judicial officers on best practices of handling wildlife crime cases and development of legal texts, guides, toolkits and reference materials for law enforcement in various countries in Africa.
Ndaona Kumanga has 19 years' experience working as Law Enforcement Coordinator in the Malawi Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW). He is based in Kasungu National Park, a component of the Malawi-Zambia Trans-Frontier Conservation Area.
Ndaona holds a Bachelor's Degree in Natural Resources Management from Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
At the workplace, Ndaona is responsible for Park operations and leads over seventy Malawi DNPW Rangers who work tirelessly to conserve wildlife.
Outside of work, Ndaona holds a position as a CITES - MIKE (Monitoring Illegal Killing of Elephants) Site Officer and a trainer of SMART (Spatial Monitoring And Reporting Tool - a field-based database) and Investigations.
Over the years Ndaona has worked with DNPW, he has greatly contributed to the reduction of massive poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking through his hard-working spirit, professional skills and support from his team members.
Ndaona truly enjoys his profession and shares his skill and experience with his workmates, encouraging their hard work to ensure they excel as a team. In his free time, Ndaona likes playing chess and football.
Jesse Paluch has worked in conservation law enforcement for 23 years. Born and raised in the northeastern United States, Jesse holds a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Biology from Long Island University. He currently serves as the Investigative Unit Captain for a state agency in the Northeast. Jesse oversees police investigators and first-line investigative supervisors that focus on misdemeanor- and felony-level fish, wildlife, and environmental crimes. Through his work, Jesse has gained specialized experience investigating crimes involving large-scale and large-market illegal commercialization of threatened and endangered species. He is highly trained in the visual identification and authentication of elephant ivory and rhinoceros' horn. To support the global effort to protect the last of Africa’s endangered species, Jesse has trained with anti-poaching unit rangers on the front lines in South Africa.
Jesse's experiences have also made him skilled in undercover operations, crime scene investigation, forensic evidence collection and handling, major case file management, search warrant application and execution, and trial preparation and courtroom testimony.
Adam Turnbo is a 25-year veteran of the Oregon State Police and currently assigned to the Criminal Investigation Division at the rank of Lieutenant. Prior to this assignment, Adam spent over 20 years within the Fish and Wildlife Division, with assigned duty stations all over western Oregon. Six of those years he was part of the OSP/DFW's Special Investigation Unit (SIU). During that time, Adam's work focused on covert operation, long-term or multi-jurisdictional wildlife trafficking, and crimes related to threatened or endangered species.