I have lived and worked in both East and Central Africa for almost 30 years. Qualified originally in the UK as a zoologist and then a PhD in veterinary science, I have worked for both government and academic institutions, as well as two of the largest international NGOs operating on the continent. I have endeavoured to use these varied experiences to develop a healthy appreciation of what works - and equally what does not - in the wildlife conservation sector, as well as the best means by which to demonstrate it.
Science, community involvement and law enforcement are equally important, and I employ scientific and social skills to address conservation holistically, and over the long term. To these ends, I have been instrumental in the creation of 11 new protected areas, the planting of 4.5 million indigenous trees, the development of education programs reaching millions of people and the discovery of 13 new vertebrates to science.... including Rungwecebus kipunji, a new genus of monkey and Atheris matildae a new species of bush viper, named after my elder daughter.
I specialise in being a generalist, convinced that a good understanding of biology, politics, economics, communications and human behaviour are all essential to ‘achieve’ conservation. Likewise, an appreciation of cultural identity and diversity is fundamental and language skills help greatly in that regard. I have focused on the design, management and conservation of forests, savannahs, aquatic and marine environments, as well as carrying out applied research in primatology, biodiversity, carnivore/elephant ecology, herpetology, wildlife trade, proxies, botany and priority setting. But science must be communicated and I have over 120 publications, including 5 books, dozens of scientific papers (including in the prestigious journals of Nature and Science) and many general articles.
I have led people, programs, conservation projects and teams of rangers, including in conflict zones. I have built a national program from zero and taken it to a $7million a year operation, and have raised almost $50 million for conservation. All of the projects I have designed and run over the years I have handed over to nationals, and training, mentorship, pragmatism, innovation and fairness are important to me.
I have worked for the Uganda Forest Department (1993-1995), Makerere University, Uganda (1994), Uganda National Parks (1995-1996), Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Cameroon (1997-1998) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in Tanzania as Country Director, and latterly as Director of Species Conservation & Science, (1999-2021).
I am now the Africa Director for Re:wild (www.rewild.org), helping to protect key habitats and species across the continent.
I am also the Key Biodiversity Areas (www.keybiodiversityareas.org) Regional Focal Point (RFP) for Eastern and the Horn of Africa
Positions & Memberships
2022 - pres Member of British Killifish Association
2022 - pres Member of British Cichlid Association
2022 - pres Member of Conservation Sub-committee, Primate Society Great Britain.
2021 - pres Species Co-ordinator, ZRC, Red Colobus Conservation Network, IUCN PSG.
2020 - pres Honorary Research Associate, Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London.
2019 - pres KBA Focal Point (Eastern/Central Africa). Key Biodiversity Areas Secretariat.
2018 - pres Member of IUCN Red Colobus Conservation Action Plan Working Group.
2012 - pres Member of IUCN Pangolin Specialist Group.
2009 - pres Member of IUCN Africa Primate Specialist Group.
2007 - pres Member of IUCN Africa Herpetology Specialist Group.