When Faye Cuevas needed help finding rebel group fighters terrorizing central Africa, she went to an unlikely source: elephants.
Faye has spent two decades as an intelligence officer in the United States Air Force, where she provided intelligence support to counter-terrorism and special operations missions throughout Africa and the Middle East.
During one of those deployments, she was helping track down Joseph Kony, leader of the infamous Lord’s Resistance Army. There, she came to a stunning realization: she could identify the presence of LRA forces simply by tracking elephant migratory patterns. If the elephants veered from one of their traditional routes, it could mean that militants were in the area.
Faye’s insights gave the military a whole new method of intelligence gathering—and taught her to love one of the earth’s biggest land mammals.
After transitioning from active military to reserve duty, Faye attended law school at Florida State University, with a focus in criminal law. With a combined expertise in law and counter-terrorism, Faye wanted to apply the tools she had learned catching and convicting terrorists to elephant poachers. She had seen how elephants could help to save communities. Now, she wanted to see how communities could help to save elephants.
So, Faye joined IFAW and developed tenBoma—a revolutionary, systems-based security approach that uses counterterrorism techniques to counter wildlife crime. The program has been so successful that it has since expanded to three different countries and received media coverage in outlets including NBC, PBS, and Vice.
Today, Faye lives in Nairobi, Kenya, where she remains committed to improving the security of both people and animals. In addition to leading tenBoma, she is responsible for the development of new strategic priority projects. She also remains a lieutenant colonel serving in the US Air Force Reserves.
Intelligence Analyst, US Joint Chiefs of Staff United States
Reservist, United States Air Force, Special Operations Command, Africa Germany
General Counsel, PIXIA Corp United States
Associate Deputy General Counsel, Legal Counsel, Department of Defense United States
Juris Doctor, magna cum laude Florida State University, United States
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