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WCS Congo blog | Jana Robeyst
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Jana Robeyst

It is with great sadness that we are sharing the tragic news that Jana Robeyst died on April 8th 2016, whilst pursuing a promising career dedicated to the study and conservation of wild forest elephants at Mbeli Bai, Nouabale-Ndoki National Park. Jana was an amazing scientist and a wonderful person who loved the work she was doing. She was living her dream by being out in the African rainforest each day observing her beloved forest elephants and western lowland gorillas in Mbeli bai.

Jana arrived in Congo to work at the Mbeli Bai Study in December 2013 as a volunteer research assistant for a period of one year. She remained an enthusiastic advocate of the site ever since, returning in September 2015 for three months to train new researchers at the bai. Finally she returned for a third time a few weeks ago to once again assist at the site, and share her knowledge of the elephants and gorillas that visit the bai with the new researchers.

An aerial view of Mbeli bai, the forest clearing in Nouabale-Ndoki National Park where Jana studied forest wildlife.

Jana was incredibly passionate about the work done by the Mbeli Bai Study. She could identify the entire population of gorillas and elephants that visit the forest clearing, and would excitedly share stories about specific individuals with any visitors to the site. For her, this was not only a workstation; it was a way of life and her passion, a lifelong dream come true. Anyone who spoke to Jana of her work will recall how she happily shared her many ideas and dreams for her future studying and working with wildlife.

From the start, Jana was fascinated by the majestic forest elephant, drawn to this animals’ intelligence and complex social systems. After her latest stay at Mbeli, she planned to start her PhD at the University of Stirling in Scotland where she was going to be the first person to analyze the powerful dataset of 20 years of elephant observations at the bai.

Jana and fellow researchers at the Mbeli bai mirador.

I personally met Jana several times during my visits to Mbeli. After only 18 months of experience working in Nouabale-Ndoki it was already clear that she would one day be a great success as a researcher here or elsewhere. She was always incredibly welcoming, passionate about the work at Mbeli, and one of the most promising young researchers that I have come across over the last few years. I saw in Jana the capacity, enthusiasm and intellectual curiosity that make a great conservation scientist and knew that we should make every effort to keep her involved in WCS Congo’s work.

Everyone who ever had the opportunity to meet Jana will truly miss her. She was an amazing, intelligent human being with a great career ahead of her. She will forever be a member of the WCS Congo team and will be very much missed by all of us.

Mark Gately

Country Director, WCS Congo Program

  • Juliet Bruce

    Such an unbelievable tragedy. I had the pleasure of getting to know Jana while in Mongolia where we worked together at the Hustai National Park collecting data on the wild horses. She was a wonderful person and I will truly miss her. I had always hoped our paths would cross again in the future, somewhere in the world. For now though, I hope I find an opportunity at some point to go to Mbeli and the Republic of Congo, to see the wildlife she was so passionate about.

    April 15, 2016 at 12:03 pm
  • Matt Muir

    Terrible news. My condolences to Jana’s family and the entire WCS team.

    April 16, 2016 at 12:00 am
  • Brian

    I’m so sorry to hear this news, my condolences to her family, friends and team. She will never be forgotten and her incredible work will live on.

    April 17, 2016 at 10:59 am
  • Diaz Sichinga

    Its terrible news and condolence to all family members and entire WCS team this was opportunity for my country and entire world to loos such wonderful and passion person like JANA i also do believe that lone day we will meet and continue sharing stories of world life conservation

    August 14, 2017 at 8:42 am

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