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Ben Swanepoel
Program Director: NEPL landscape & WCS Country Program law enforcement advisor
Ben completed his Nature Conservation studies in South Africa in 1987 and was involved in protected area management over a period of 22 years in the South African context. He has a wealth of experience in all aspects of protected areas management and community conservation projects. Ben has a strong mentoring and community engagement philosophy and was one of a two-person team instrumental in the design and implementation of one of the leading conservation services programs in South Africa, the "Working For Water" program. In 2003, Ben obtained his degree majoring in environmental management and industrial psychology. In 2009 Ben was seconded to WWF Laos as a protected areas management advisor, during which time he resigned from his South African position to work full time in Lao PDR. In 2011 Ben joined the WCS Lao country program as program manager for the Bolikhamxay landscape, later transferring to his current position as the Nam Et-Phou Louey landscape director.
Sivilay Duangdala
Site Program Manager, Nam Et-Phou Louey NPA
Sivilay Duangdala works for Wildlife Conservation Society as the Site Program Manager of the Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area (NEPL-NPA) in nort- eastern Laos. Sivilay graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and has worked at NEPL-NPA since early 2008. Sivilay has been promoted through many positions in WCS, starting as an accountant, later as an administration assistant, eventually as a management leader. As the Site Program Manager, his main responsibilities are to supervise all programs supporting conservation works in NEPL-NPA. Sivilay thinks wildlife and nature conservation is the most challenging work in Laos as it is often viewed as an obstacle to development. He, however, understands that conservation supports development by providing nutrition, shelter, fresh air, and water for humans.
Janina Bikova
Ecotourism Advisor
Janina is a Latvian who has been studying and working abroad in France, South Asia and South East Asia since 2010. She holds a MSc Degree in Geography and Sustainable Development in Rural Areas with a focus on Ecotourism, and in 2013 moved to Laos to work in the responsible tourism sector. She joined WCS in 2015 as Ecotourism Advisor for Nam Et-Phou Louey NPA, where her activities focus on ensuring successful management and development of the NPA’s ecotourism by linking together growing community-based tourism activity with conservation objectives.
Jay White
Nam Et-Phou Louey NPA Technical Adviser
Jay served three years as a US Peace Corps Volunteer in Thailand after graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Wildlife Science from Paul Smith’s College in upstate New York. In 2015, on completing his Peace Corps service, Jay moved to Muang Hiam, Houaphanh Province as an on-site Conservation Intern working with Nam Et-Phou Louey law enforcement patrols and wildlife survey teams in a quality-control role. In 2016, Jay became the on-site Technical Adviser in Nam Et-Phou Louey, a role and stationing he still retains.
Khamkeo Syxaiyakham Thor
Assistant Program Manager, Laos
Khamkeo Syxaiyakham completed his BSc in Ecotourism from the National University of Laos in 2012 and an MSc in Conservation Ecology from KMUTT, Thailand in 2018. He worked with WCS as an Ecotourism Officer based in Nam Et-Phou Louey NPA from late 2012 to 2015, conducting gibbon research for his Masters’ Degree in NEPL as well as being involved in several wildlife surveys in central Laos. Khamkeo’s responsibility at WCS, as of early 2019, is assisting the Program Manager in supporting the implementation of all program activities in NEPL NPA.
Maiphaeng Phaengkomphan
Site Office Manager (Field Accountant)
Maiphaeng works for WCS as the Site Office Manager (Field Accountant) in the Nam Et-Phou Louey NPA in north-eastern Laos. Maipheng graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Business Management from the National University of Laos. She has worked at NEPL since early 2013, initially as an accountant and administrator before being promoted to her present position.
Moua Yachithor
Community Engagement Program Coordinator
Moua graduated with a Higher Diploma in Vocational Education and Training from Polytechnic College, Vientiane in 2010. Upon graduation, he began work at Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area, his birthplace, as an Outreach Assistant for WCS. He has since taken the position of Conservation Education and Outreach Officer of NEPL, based in Vientiane and, more recently, as the Project Coordinator for Community Engagement/Outreach for the WCS Bolikhamxay program. In 2017 Moua moved back to Nam Et-Phou Louey as the WCS Livelihood and Community Engagement Program Coordinator.
Ninthita Vandydonesavanh
Project Administration Officer
Ninthita, a lifetime resident of the Nam Et-Phou Louey area, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Social Work from National University of Laos in 2016. She started working with WCS as the NEPL Administration Officer based in NEPL in 2017. Her responsibilities include managing and maintaining project supplies and equipment, organizing activity logistics, and assisting the field accountant.
Somli Sivilay
Ecotourism Officer
Somli Sivilay is from the Khmu ethnic group and originally lived in a village at the entrance to the Nam Et-Phou Louey NPA. In 2017 he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in English at the Teacher Training College in Luang Prabang. While still studying, he worked in tourism in the private sector. After graduation, he returned to his hometown, and has worked for WCS as an Ecotourism Officer in Nam Et-Phou Louey NPA since 2018.

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