S1 Episode 11: Lisa Dabek


We talk to  Lisa Dabek, senior Conservation Scientist at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo, and Founder and Director of the globally renowned Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Lisa has received numerous awards and accolades for her work. The most recent include two from the IUCN. In 2019 she won their prestigious George Rabb award for conservation which she received in 2019 ‘In recognition of her outstanding leadership and innovation in the conservation of one of the most overlooked groups of mammal species, the amazing tree kangaroos, and her over three decade commitment to conservation and local people in Papua New Guinea’. And just last month – September 2021 – she was awarded the IUCN’s Harold Jefferson Coolidge Memorial Medal given to individuals who have made ‘internationally significant contributions to effective conservation’.

We discuss Lisa’s remarkable success in setting up PNG’s first conservation area, and working with local communities to protect the superb mammals it contains. She also explains how difficult it is to see, let alone study, tree kangaroos, especially when someone with a score to settle just cast a spell on you.


Here is information on the Woodland Park Zoo Tree Kangaroo Project and this is Lisa’s latest book on Tree Kangaroos: Science and Conservation. Some reports on mammalwatching in Papua New Guinea are here, and here is a video from the BBC on Dingiso, Jon’s favourite Tree Kangaroo. You can nominate a young (<40 years old) conservationist for the Indianapolis Prize Emerging Conservationist Award here. Cover art: Lisa and a Matschie’s Tree Kangaroo by Jonathan Byers.