SBC Team

Javier Vallejos Guerrero - Field Team Leader

Javier was born in Platanar in the Province of Santa Cruz – Cajamarca. As one of 14 children, Javier grew up in a one-bedroom house and walked six hours to attend school each day. He did not finish his early education as his father needed help with the cattle. However, he did eventually learn to read and write, taking classes in his late thirties. For 25 years Javier was a hunter in the Sierra, maintaining his family with dried deer meet. When Javier was a boy the deer were plentiful but as he grew older he was forced to go further away from his village to hunt. Discouraged by the loss of wildlife in the Sierras he stopped hunting and used his wildlife expertise to help a neighbouring conservation initiative. In 2006 he began working with Robyn Appleton from SBC and together they discovered a population of spectacled bears at low elevations in la Cuenca de leche watershed. His perseverance for locating and observing bears together with his incredible love of the spectacled bear has been fundamental to the success of SBC. He has played a key role in bear conservation through his position as an expert field team leader, implementer of logistics and local coordinator of research permits and community outreach. His efforts were recognized when he won the 2010 Disney Conservation Hero Award.

Jose Vallejos Aguinaga – Project Coordinator

Jose was born in the Province of Santa Cruz – Cajamarca. He grew up in a rural community hunting deer and rounding up free-range cattle with his father. He began volunteering with SBC in 2007 and was hired on as the Project Coordinator in 2009 after extensive training in British Columbia Canada. Jose had limited education and was unable to use computers and other types of technologies. After multiple trips to Canada and a passion to learn he is now coordinating numerous projects and working as a parabiologist entering field data into tables and managing field data collections. Not only is he proficient in the office he is crucial to our field work. Because of José’s previous experience rounding up wild cattle he has an ability to move effortlessly through our rugged field site.

Romer Isai Sanchez Aguinaga – Technical Coordinator

Was born in the village of Molino Viejo in the province of Santa Cruz – Cajamarca. Isai was brought up in a rural town were his family raised and rounded up free ranging goats. When he competed high school he moved to Chiclayo to work at a friends Internet shop. He had no computer skills but through determination and perseverance he taught himself to use computers and programs such as Word. Isai became involved with SBC as a volunteer in 2009 and officially joined the SBC team in 2010. The combination of his rural upbringing and computer experience has made him an invaluable member of the SBC team both in the office and in the field.

Carl Royln Cordova Chavez – Field Assistant

Cali was born in Tocache in San Martin and Joined SBC in 2009 as a field assistant. Together with his wife and son he moved from their village to Batan Grande hoping to provide a better life for his family. He began working with SBC doing odd Jobs at the conservation centre. His hard work did not go unnoticed. and within months of working with SBC his skills and incredible work ethic were put to good use in the field. Cali now works as a field assistant helping us to check camera traps, collect data on sapote phenology, and carry supplies from each of our base camps. He also continues his work at the conservation centre maintaining the grounds and tending to the hundreds of newly planted Algarrobo trees.

Manuel De La Cruz Cisneros– Field Assistant

Manuel has lived in rural Batan Grande all of his life and has been working to protect the area from urban development, agriculture, and hunters. He founded the association of cattle ranchers El Cebu back in the 1980 and has been working to protect 10,000 hectares of graze land and water resources ever since. Manuel officially joined the SBC team in 2010 helping to deliver supplies to base camps by mule. He also patrols the area for poachers and land squatters. Many of the low elevation water resources exist today because of Manuel’s foresight and dedication to conservation.

Ana Berzabe Vallejos - Community Artisan Co-ordinator

Bethy was born in Mayobamba in the Province of Santa Cruz – Cajamarca. As the third of seven children, Bethy helped take care of her younger siblings in a small rural community, while walking 2 hours a day to study at a school with limited resources. On the weekends, she helped her father in the field take care of the goats he tended for a living.  Bethy is very creative and has always had a passion for cooking.  She studied at  cooking schools in Chiclayo and Lima and worked as a cook for several years. Today, in addition to being the Artisan Co-ordinator, she cooks delicious meals for the participants of small to large workshops, education programs,  the staff, volunteers, students and any visiting researchers to the conservation center.  Bethy’s creativity, her experiences and her role as a respected member of the community have contributed to her success as the Artisans Coordinator. She gives incredible attention to detail and provides a high level of quality control, and is learning daily what is required to grow a business.

Gwen Smith

Gwen has dedicated a great deal of her time and personal resources to help SBC fundraise for and build the Conservation Centre and staff housing in Batan Grande. Her past experience includes extensive volunteering in Nepal and on archaeological digs in Spain. She enjoys working with woolen textiles and collects and repairs old sewing machines for use in third world and developing countries. Gwen speaks Spanish and is working with SBC to promote the making and marketing of local village handcrafts.

Heather Thurston

Heather ThurstonHeather assisted in helping SBC fundraise for the Conservation Centre and staff housing in Batan Grande. As a semi-retired nurse and now owner of a seniors’ transportation service, she enjoys using bear photos from SBC as inspiration for fabric and felting art work.

Heather is part of the team supporting SBC promote the making and marketing of village handcrafts.



Research. Education. Community Outreach.