Meet John Heydinger

John works with the unique desert-adapted lions of northwest Namibia. Desert lions primarily inhabit communal land where they come into conflict with rural livestock owners. Partnering with the Namibia Ministry of Environment and Tourism, John is teaming with researchers and community-support organizations to limit human-lion conflict through evidence-based management and by training and deploying community Lion Rangers, a program which he helped found. This community-centered program aims at empowering local people to become more active participants in desert lion conservation policy, practice, and management.

John is from Minnesota and received his undergraduate degree from Carleton College and his masters from the University of Cape Town (South Africa). He is completing his PhD in at the University of Minnesota and Macquarie University (Australia); his research is supported by an Anthropocene Grant from the Big History Institute. In 2018 John was named a National Geographic Society “Explorer.” John lives and works at Wereldsend (World’s End) basecamp in remote northwest Namibia. You can learn more about the Lion Rangers and John’s research at, follow the Lion Rangers on Instagram (@lionrangers), or see a short video about the program here.


Explore John’s work with desert lions in Namibia.

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