It is with profound sadness that African Parks’ relays the news that Dr Anthony Hall-Martin, our co-founder and conservation director, passed away yesterday (Wednesday 21 May) after a prolonged struggle with cancer. He was 68 years old and is survived by his wife Catherina and daughters Vega and Cate.

Anthony had a distinguished conservation career of nearly 50 years and his loss will resonate throughout the continent. During his lifetime he tirelessly championed the cause of wildlife conservation, raised millions of dollars for its benefit, and was responsible for the establishment, expansion or management of dozens of protected areas. He was particularly renowned as a world authority on the African elephant and black rhinoceros and was the author of more than ten books and 80 published scientific papers. During his lengthy tenure at South African National Parks, he was directly responsible for the establishment of six new national parks including Table Mountain National Park, Agulhas National Park, Namaqua National Park and Mapungubwe National Park. He was also responsible for the significant expansion of several national parks adding an additional 400,000 hectares to amongst others, Addo National Park, Augrabies National Park, Mountain Zebra National Park, Karoo National Park and Marakele National Park. Anthony also had the foresight to de-proclaim the compromised Vaalbos National Park which was then replaced with the bio-diversity rich Mokoala National Park. He was a pioneer in the establishment of transfrontier conservation areas and was responsible for the conclusion of the agreement between Botswana and South Africa that gave rise to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. During his career he was responsible for the introduction of elephant and rhino to national parks and wildlife reserves across Africa, contributing greatly to the conservation of these species. Today, Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania have populations of black rhino as a direct result of his interventions.

As co-founder of African Parks in 2000, Anthony had the foresight to realise that a pragmatic new model was required to address the looming conservation crisis in many parts of Africa. As the Conservation and Development Director at African Parks, he championed the organisation’s entry into Malawi, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Zambia, and negotiated with dozens of African Governments to advance the conservation of protected areas across the continent. One of his notable success stories was the transformation of Majete Wildlife Reserve in Malawi from a totally depleted park to a thriving conservation success involving an initial restocking of over 2,500 animals including elephant, black rhinoceros, buffalo, sable antelope, zebra, lion and leopard. At the time of his death, Anthony was a board member of Majete Wildlife Reserve in Malawi, Liuwa Plain National Park in Zambia and Akagera National Park in Rwanda. He continued to work tirelessly to secure more protected areas across Africa until literally days before his death.

Anthony was a founder of the IUCN African Rhino Specialist Group and co-founder of the Rhino and Elephant Foundation. He was a trusted advisor to many conservation organisations, including the IUCN, WWF, Endangered Wildlife Trust and Peace Parks Foundation, and received a number of awards for his contribution to conservation, including the British Council for Zoology Award, the Bruno H Schubert Prize in Germany, the Senior Captain Scott Medal from the South African Academy of Science, and the National Geographic Society Award.

As tributes pour in from the conservation world, those who knew Anthony have described him as a conservation giant whose impact was felt throughout the African continent. At African Parks,Anthony was a mentor, friend and inspiration to his many colleagues who valued and benefitted from his wisdom, wit and guidance. He has left a significant conservation legacy for the world and he will be sorely missed by all who knew, respected and loved him.

Peter Fearnhead

Chief Executive Officer

African Parks Network