Protecting Bio-Diversity


L’Association du Calao asbl s’intéresse particulièrement à l’éducation des peuplades
vivant à proximité de la faune et à la conservation de celle-ci.


Plages du Cap Vert...

For Sustainable Future


La sensibilisation et la sensibilité à l’environnement dans le milieu scolaire et au sein de nombreuses
tribus font partie intégrante de notre projet global.


Matapes Community School...

Education = Conservation


Soutenir l’éducation des hommes contribue également à protéger les espèces animales –
La conservation des espèces animales et le développement des populations
vivant à leur proximité vont de pair.


Zoo d'Abidjan...

Cabo Verde

Our Projects

cropped-Calao4coul_new2.jpgL’Association du Calao est une association internationale située au Luxembourg et créée en 2004 ; elle a pour objectif principal la conservation animale et sauvage tout en élaborant et soutenant des projets de développement auprès des communautés en Afrique de l’Est et de l’Ouest.

La conservation des espèces animales et le développement des populations avoisinantes vont de paire ; en aidant à l’éducation des Hommes, les espèces peuvent aussi être protégées. Nos actions peuvent ainsi aider ces peuples à mettre leurs enfants sur le chemin de l’école sans modifier leurs valeurs socioculturelles. Dans le cadre de son intervention pour la conservation de la biodiversité, l’Association du Calao asbl se joint aux zoos afin d’y apporter son soutien et son aide.


About Calao

L’éducation de l’homme est seule garante de la préservation de notre biodiversité;
Elle fournira aux bâtisseurs du futur l’espoir d’un avenir meilleur sur une planète préservée

Notre mission


Élaborer et soutenir des projets de développement en Afrique de l’Est et de l’Ouest, promouvoir des activités culturelles au Grand-Duché du Luxembourg, et  coopérer avec d’autres associations ou ONGs.

La conservation des espèces animales et le développement des populations vivant à leur proximité vont de pair : soutenir l’éducation des hommes contribue également à protéger les espèces animales. Dans le cadre de son intervention pour la conservation de la biodiversité, l’Association du Calao asbl se joint aux zoos afin de leur apporter son soutien et son aide. Ceux-ci s’engagent souvent dans une politique de développement durable et de sensibilisation à la conservation de l’environnement. Ils sont en général conscients de la nécessité d’agir pour sauvegarder les espèces animales menacées et leurs écosystèmes ; ils font de la conservation de la biodiversité une priorité.

 “A sustainable future cannot be achieved without conserving biological diversity, not only for nature itself but also for all seven billion people who depend on it,” said IUCN Director-General Julia Marton-Lefevre (Rio 2012)

Message de notre Présidente, Sophie Decelle


Mes recherches sur la conservation de la vie sauvage en Afrique m’ont permis de rencontrer et d’apprécier des tribus vivant en symbiose avec leur environnement naturel. Elles font preuve au quotidien d’un grand respect de la faune et de la flore (voir notre projet éducatif au Kenya avec les Samburus).  L’Association du Calao asbl s’intéresse particulièrement à l’éducation des peuplades vivant à proximité de la faune et à la conservation de celle-ci.

Depuis de nombreuses années et afin de préserver cette faune dont le nombre decroit à vue d’oeil, les zoos sont devenus principalement des niches pour la conservation de la biodiversité et des espèces en voie de disparition.  La reconnaissance du rôle des parcs zoologiques dans le domaine de la récréation, de l’éducation, de la recherche et de la conservation de la biodiversité, est bien réelle et est à l’origine d’un engagement au développement de certaines méthodes appropriées au bien-être des espèces animales (voir notre projet à Abidjan, CIV).

La sensibilisation et la sensibilité à l’environnement dans le milieu scolaire et au sein de nombreuses tribus font partie intégrante de notre projet global (voir notre projet au Cap Vert).  Incorporé cette conscience collective dans le milieu éducatif est notre but d’où notre slogan:  Education = Conservation !

Nos Partenaires


Our Board & Active Members

Sophie Decelle

Sophie Decelle

President – Coordination of all projects 

Passionate about wildlife and their habitat, Sophie Decelle has achieved more than 10 years’ experience in the conservation area and wildlife welfare. She studied Wildlife Ranger and Wildlife Conservation and was trained in animal parks, reserves, sanctuaries and zoos around the world; this passion benefits as well of 23 years’ expertise in an International environment. She believes strongly in the involvement of local communities and in the implementation of education programmes which lead to conservation strategies.  Her motto has always been Education = Conservation.

Aymeric Thuault

Aymeric Thuault

Secretary General – Head of Cap Vert Project

After starting his career in Singapore and London as trader in the banking industry, he founded his art advisory company in Luxembourg in 2009. After numerous trips to Cabo Verde over the last ten years, he became progressively worried by the amount of plastic debris that is accumulating along the Eastern coasts of the archipelago. Aymeric asked the help of Sophie and Calao in 2013 and has initiated the new project of the association; it aims at the systematic collection of plastic debris in Sal Island with the help of local partners.   Aymeric holds a Master of Finance from ESCP-EAP and studied Art history at Lille-III University.

Irène Martins

Irène Martins

Administrator – Cap Vert Project

Passionate about travelling (ecotourism) to discover and understand local communities within their environment, she did volunteer works and participate to several projects (plan Grande Quehueche in Guatemala, composting eco-friendly options in India, replanting of endemic vegetation in Vietnam, bird watching in New Caledonia and New Zealand…).  Thanks to a friendship history, she joined Calao when it started an education/conservation project in the Sal Island of Cabo Verde, her home country.  As per Irene’s point of view, CALAO’s projects can improve the quality of life of local communities and help them understand their importance as well as their environment.

Randel van Heerden

Randel van Heerden

Head of Volunteers’ Team in Abidjan Zoo till 01.06.2016

Randel is an ex-policeman from South Africa with a passion for all types of animals.  He studied International Tourism Management at London College of Business Studies while working for an online travel agency. He traveled extensively in Southern Africa and has a passion for the outdoors and adventure. With his wife, a Swiss diplomat, they moved to Manila, Philippines where he helped to build a school out of shipping containers for an English based charity. The school was the first school available for children living on one of the world’s biggest rubbish site. After the Philippines they moved to Guatemala where Randel helped Constru Casa, a Dutch based NGO, to build houses for people who never owned their own place.  In Côte d’Ivoire, Randel heard about the Swiss Embassy involvement in the Abidjan zoo rehabilitation project and started as a volunteer in 2013.

Hilda Tresz

Hilda Tresz

Administrator – International Animal Welfare Specialist

Well-known specialist in Behavioral Enrichment and International Animal Welfare, Hilda works for the Phoenix Zoo (USA).  She is responsible for developing and including behavioral enrichment philosophy and applications across the animal collection and techniques for its application.  She serves as an Ambassador of the Phoenix Zoo by consulting on animal welfare issues locally, nationally and internationally.  Hilda is also a mentor for the Jane Goodall Institute.  Originally, her main focus was to advance and enhance the care of chimpanzees by eliminating solitary confinement situations. Hilda’s task was largely to find and introduce suitable companions for adult and young chimpanzees. Over the years, however, her work has expanded to include making improvements for all species found at the foreign zoos she visits. She works all over the world to enhance the welfare of all animal species she can.  She approached Richard Champion to help out Calao’s volunteers with the chimpanzees situation in Abidjan Zoo.



Joel Sop

Joel Sop

Calao’s Webmaster

Joel Sop is passionate about Technology and its impact on development and financial markets. He first came to know of Calao in 2012, and fully joined in 2014, fond of the association’s commitment to conservation efforts through education. Having served as webmaster for number of local and regional non-profits, Joel was glad to bring forth his expertise in information systems, to spread Calao’s vision to even wider audiences. Joel holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Virginia, and a Master of Business Administration in Information Technology and Enterprise Integration from Old Dominion University.


Richard Champion

Richard Champion

Administrator –  till end-2014 in charge of Abidjan Zoo project

Independent Zoologist and Animal Consultancy. Sorts out animal welfare problems, rescues or closes failing zoos, works on conservation projects, Sets up animal businesses, animal collection plans, moves animals, acquisition of animals, relocation of animals, animal health assessments, advice on health and safety in animal settings, animal training, capture, handling. Present portfolio includes working with animal welfare problems at zoos in Africa. Working on a two-year mission for the Ministry Eaux et Forêts, Swiss Embassy and Association du CALAO to improve the zoo. The project is to ensure high standards of animal welfare, staff training, improve animal enclosures and introduce enrichment for all animals and high standards of animal husbandry. Introduction of a comprehensive education programme. Develop conservation projects, links with other zoo and conservation organisations. Development of the zoo management and to develop the zoo to be self sustainable both in funding and in resources.


Patrick Dorvil

Patrick Dorvil

Administrator Cap Vert project

Patrick has been working as Senior Economist in the environmental sector at the European Investment Bank since 2008. His main duty is to carry out the due diligence work for water and solid waste projects both within and outside the European Union. Prior to joining the Bank, he worked as a consultant engineer for a number of international consulting firms in a variety of Low- and Middle Income countries. Patrick has studied civil engineering in Stuttgart / Germany and holds a PhD in Economics from University of St Gallen in Switzerland. As sector specialist, Patrick is more than happy to join Calao.  Patrick’s ultimate objective is to transform the waste generated or imported to Sal into valuable resources.

Paul Boulos Chahine

Paul Boulos Chahine

Administrator – Cap Vert project

Boulos Paul has been working as consultant on climate finance issues at the European Investment Bank when he discovered how passionate he is with environment and biodiversity protection. Having already worked in capacity building and civil society projects he was more than happy to join CALAO’s team and contribute to the biodiversity protection and the education component of the project on SAL Island in Cabo Verde. Boulos holds a Master Degree in finance from Bordeaux IV University in France and being interested in the challenges of the climate change impacts he recently became certified expert in climate change and renewable energy finance from Frankfurt school of Management.

Valentina Cefalu

Valentina Cefalu


Valentina is a Culture Professional, who holds a PhD in Art History and is currently working at the European Parliament within the Culture and Education Committee.  In 2013 she joined Calao’s team, sharing values and ideas with Sophie. While the projects realised by Calao in Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire and Cap Vert are diverse, they all aim to build awareness on the ethical relationship of human beings to the environment and wildlife. For this reason, Valentina shares with enthusiasm Calao’s vision that knowledge and education as essential tools to foster sustainable development and social cohesion.

Contact Us

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)


Your Message

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons