Mongabay: How did you become interested in wildlife and specifically lion conservation?
Leela Hazzah: Since I was young I have always had a desire to be outdoors, with wildlife, whether at the National Zoo in Washington D.C. or watching camels in the desert during my summer breaks in Egypt. As a young girl, I would listen to my father’s tales of all the wildlife that roamed the deserts of Egypt. It frustrated me that the wildlife he knew as a young boy no longer existed in Egypt. I couldn’t go to the deserts and hear lions roar as he did or see wolf tracks around our family’s desert home. This led me to pursue a degree in Biology and focus my studies on wildlife conservation. I specifically chose lion conservation because lions are rapidly declining due to conflict with people, but also because they are a symbol of wildness.