Honoured for conservation role


South African Lowvelder, Les Carlisle, won Wild Tomorrow Fund’s 2019 prestigious Umvikeli Protector Award, presented to him in New York by executive director John Steward.

Les Carlisle receives Wild Tomorrow Fund’s 2019 Umvikeli Protector Award in New York from executive director John Steward. Photo: andBeyond.com

Carlisle is the group conservation manager at andBeyond, a founder of Phinda Private Game Reserve – now a globally recognised conservation model – and project manager of Rhinos Without Borders, which has to date successfully translocated 87 rhino from South Africa to Botswana.

“At first, I thought John’s email was just a nomination for an award, but only when I read it carefully for
a second time, I realised he had been asking me to accept it,” Carlisle told Safari News. Carlisle grew up in the Lowveld of Mpumalanga and worked at a veterinary clinic during school holidays.

After serving in the South African National Defence Force at Air Force Base Hoedspruit, he undertook cheetah research at Motswari Game Lodge in the Timbavati Private Game Reserve.

As a professional in game capture and translocation, he was involved in giraffe immobilisation and the delivery of wild animals to private game reserves, before starting his own company Helicapture.

In eight years they translocated more than 40 000 head of wildlife and delivered game to 40 new and 150 established private game reserves. In 1987, Carlisle imported his first batch of disease-free Cape buffalo from Texas, and as wildlife manager spent years at the Karkloof Game Reserve, specialising in breeding buffalo, white rhino, and roan and sable antelope.

He established Conservation Corporation Africa (CC Africa) in 1991, now known as andBeyond, as well as Phinda Private Game Reserve. It was the first reserve to include local community leaders in decisions on large-predator reintroduction.

His management skills are widely recognised, as vice-chairman of the Natal Game Ranchers Association, as founder and chairman of the Hluhluwe Tourism Association, and as initiator of the Phinda community development programme.

The programme saw millions of rands worth of classrooms, clinics, pre-primary projects, water projects and community production centres built in the first 10 years.

Les Carlisle and his team busy relocating rhino. Photo: andBeyond

This has become the Africa Foundation of which he is currently a trustee. Carlisle has been
a specialist and guest speaker on sustainable development and relevant topics at several United Nations World Tourism Organisation, and other, international conferences. He has also collaborated on two World Bank ecotourism-research projects and presented the Phinda model to the Royal Geographical Society in London for the Tourism for Tomorrow Award, which they won in 1998. His international conservation achievements include the facilitation of translocating 50 gaur to and from parks in India, the translocation of tigers, spotted deer, Endangered hard-ground swamp deer and nilgai in India, and the habituation of jaguars in Brazil.

Capturing rhino. Photo: andBeyond

On receiving the award, Carlisle was given a standing ovation, illustrating the respect supporters have for impactful and proven conservation models, Steward said about Carlisle.

Written by Mariana Balt
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