Pioneers & early conservationists

Following in the footsteps of the early explorers and naturalists came stories of the deeds of the continent's early conservationists. With the recognition of the need for wildlife protection came an era of pioneering individuals who, through a combination of passion and sheer determination, were able to leave an indelible mark on conservation in Africa - each contributing enormously to the established conservation order that we witness today.


Pioneering in conservation has come in many guises, from the establishment of parks and reserves, first wardens of a newly minted game reserves, to those instrumental in bringing communities and wildlife together, to others who have shown the way through their deeds and dedication.

This group includes many well known names, but also features a number of less celebrated individuals (and a few activists). There is no doubt too, that tourism and wildlife conservation are intrinsically linked, and as such, we are indebted to a number of founding personalities who gave us some of the safari operations that we see today.

Early conservationists

Hand in hand with these early pioneers came a host of ground-breaking conservationists who each applied their individual skills and passion to a range of early challenges, from field biologists to concerned wildlife advocates there are many notable individuals that we should like to remember.

Pioneers in conservation

Here are just a few of the pioneering personalities that deserve recognition...

Early conservationists

Celebrating the many early conservationists in whose footsteps others have followed...

  • Viv Wilson (Zimbabwe)

    Ian RedmondEstablished the world renown Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage, undertook extensive research and authored Duikers of Africa.

  • Norman Carr (Zambia)

    Introduced his vision of Conservation through Tourism in Zambia.

  • Alan Elliot (Zimbabwe)

    Brought protection for The Presidential Elephants of Hwange through the patronage of the President of Zimbabwe.

  • Rupert Fothergill (Zimbabwe)

    Chief Game Ranger and head of Operation Noah following the construction of the Kariba dam in the early 1960s.

  • Bernard Grizmek (Tanzania)

    Ian RedmondInstrumental in creating and expanding the Serengeti National Park, following his documentary film “Serengeti shall not die”.

  • Richard Bonham (Tanzania & Kenya)

    Founder of Sand River Selous, Maasailand Preservation Trust and Big Life.

"I believe that, when people look back in a hundred years’ time, they’ll think of Africa’s conservationists as the heroes of this century. Human slavery was once considered acceptable, and when Abraham Lincoln worked to abolish it, many people with vested interests in its continuation railed against its abolition. Today, everyone knows that slavery is abominable. The emancipation of the environment is this century’s greatest challenge, but as with human slavery, many corporations, governments and individuals have vested interests in the sustained destruction of Africa’s natural heritage. Conservationists today are fighting a similar battle to Lincoln’s. And like society today considers slavery detestable, in the future we will consider todays abuse of Africa’s wildlife as one of the most tragic and loathsome periods of mankind’s history." - Scott Ramsay (photographer, adventurer and author)