Elissa Title ’18 calls it “the naughty look,” and it means that the lions next to her “are going to try to eat me,” she says. No worries. She always carries a big stick – not for protection but for distraction.

“Lions have very short attention spans – it’s like they have ADHD,” the Chapman art student says. “We use the stick to break their gaze, and then everything’s fine.”

Last summer Title made her sixth trip to Africa, volunteering as a conservationist in Zimbabwe, where captive-bred lions are readied for release into reserves so one day they can produce wild-born offspring.

Title acts as dominant member of the pride, helping cubs develop behaviors that eventually allow them to hunt and thrive on their own. She’s also a skilled photographer, with her images aiding researchers on multiple projects.

“It’s important that we all work together to restore populations of wild lions, which have lost 80 percent of their historic range,” she says.

What’s more, Title designs ads and products she hopes will “stop people in their tracks and make them think about conservation in ways they might not have before,” she says.

“Elissa is a doer, a producer,” says Department of Art Chair Claudine Jaenichen, Title’s graphic design mentor. “She’ll find a way to implement her ideas.”

Whether she’s breaking the gaze of a cub or attracting the attention of consumers, Title follows her heart.

“As you can probably tell,” she says, “I love everything about Africa.”

 

Check out some of Title’s photography below: