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A Tribute to Jana Robeyst: Remembering Her Dedication to Wildlife

Jana Robeyst at work in Mbeli Bai, Nouabale-Ndoki National Park. Photo ©WCS Congo Program.
Jana Robeyst at work in Mbeli Bai, Nouabale-Ndoki National Park. Photo ©WCS Congo Program.

By John Robinson

Nouabale-Ndoki National Park, Republic of Congo, April 15, 2016 – A week ago, the Wildlife Conservation Society suffered the tragic loss of one of our field researchers, Jana Robeyst, in the Republic of Congo. She died after she was charged by an elephant while she was working with a team of fellow conservationists here.

The tribute below was posted on the WCS Congo website to honor Jana and her work. We wanted to share our memories of Jana with others to honor her passion and dedication to wildlife.

Every day, I am honored to work with an entire team of conservationists who work under very challenging conditions. I admire their selflessness and team spirit to work on behalf of wildlife, no matter the challenges. When one of our colleagues dies, it affects us all. Our entire team at WCS will honor Jana through our continuing work – in her memory – in the Congo and around globe.

Here is the tribute written by our WCS Congo Team who worked with Jana each day:

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 and remained an enthusiastic advocate of the site ever since. From the start, Jana was fascinated by the majestic forest elephant, drawn to this animal’s 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.

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.

Read more tributes from the team who worked with Jana here.


John Robinson is Executive Vice President for Conservation and Science at WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society).


  1. Sylvester P. Harris
    November 3, 2016, 11:52 am

    l am so sorry for this sad event. As I was reading her story tears roll down my cheek . May God grant her perpetual peace and consoles her family .

  2. Nikos Pocock
    April 19, 2016, 3:32 am

    My sincere condolences to all the family, friends and the WCS society of Jana, her great love for the conservation of elephants and scientific research shall be greatly missed. May her legacy and conservation continue to live on!

  3. Nikos Pocock
    April 19, 2016, 3:29 am

    My sincere condolences to the entire family and friends of Jana, the WCS society, may her legacy for the conservation live on.

  4. Dew Hewitt
    Orlando, US
    April 18, 2016, 4:06 pm

    Tragic someone that could have done soo much good to protect Elephants.

    Even sadder that an elephant had to charge against a human because they need to protect themselves from us.

    Elephants can’t tell the difference between a evil human and a humananimal !!!

    I just wish Elephants will charge against all Poachers.

  5. Lynne Meyer
    United States
    April 18, 2016, 11:49 am

    Sad for this tragic loss especially someone whose heart was in the right place and do dedicated to animals.

  6. Jen
    April 16, 2016, 9:29 pm

    It’s really sad to loose someone so dedicated to the Elephants when we have so much poaching and Trophy killing happening today !

  7. Holly Dublin
    April 15, 2016, 2:36 pm

    Like elephants, those of us that work with them mourn the loss of our fallen comrades. So sad to lose a promising young colleague, long before her time.