Jana was born on the 15th December 1989 in Ghent, Belgium. From childhood on she was interested in animals. She studied mathematics/sciences in high school and started her bachelor biology at the University of Ghent in 2007. Afterwards she followed a master’s degree at the University of Antwerp and graduated in 2012 as Master in the Evolutionary and Behavioural Biology.

     

 

In the meantime in September 2008, she was a volunteer at The Wildlife Friends of Thailand where she took care of the daily nursing of the elephants of the sanctuary.

In July 2009, she travelled together with her father to Mongolia to be volunteer researchers and helped with the study of the wild Przewalski horses at the Hustai National Park.

   

For her master thesis, she went from July 2011 until September 2011 to the Amboseli National Park in Kenya to map the lion population by means of observations and GPS tracking.

   

From December 2013 until November 2014, she stayed for the first time in the NouabalĂ©-Ndoki National Park - Mbeli Bai in Congo/Brazzaville as a research assistant to study the behavior of the western lowland gorillas, the forest elephants, the sitatunga’s and the forest buffaloes.

Afterwards, she started with her colleague and friend Marie Manguette, the development of the website www.mbelibaistudy.org and the publication of a quarterly newsletter.

In September 2015, she left again for 3 months to Mbeli Bai to continue her research and start studying the available data of the forest elephants as preparation of her PhD degree at the Stirling University in Scotland.

For the third time she went to Mbeli Bai in March 2016 to be the site manager. She was responsible for the daily operations of the camp and the training of the research assistants.

   
Dublin Zoo is one of the donors of the Mbeli Bai project. In October 2015, team leader Helen Clarke Bennett visited the project and was welcomed by Jana and Milou Groenenberg.

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On the 8th of April 2016 the unexpected happened. On the way back from the observation platform to the camp, she was surprised and attacked by an elephant. She died instantly pursuing her dream and at the place she loved to be. “Make a difference for the animal kingdom” was written on her bucket list and for sure she did. Colleagues and friends called her a passionate and promising scientist who would have become a renowned scientist in the world of elephants and would have greatly contributed to their conservation.
With this foundation we want to carry on her dream and passion.

Article in National Geographic