African Parks sadly announces that Dr Anthony Hall-Martin, African Parks’ co-founder and conservation director, passed away on Wednesday, 21 May in Cape Town after a prolonged struggle with cancer. He was 68 years old. As tributes pour in from around the world, those who knew Dr Hall Martin have described him as a conservation giant whose impact was felt throughout the African continent and whose legacy will resonate for generations to come. Dr Hall-Martin leaves behind his wife, Catherina, and grown-up daughters Vega and Cate.
Dr Hall-Martin leaves behind a list of formidable achievements in a conservation career that spanned nearly 50 years. During this time he tirelessly championed the cause of wildlife conservation, raised millions of dollars for its benefit, and was responsible for the establishment, expansion and 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.
Born on 12 June 1945, Anthony’s lifelong interest in wildlife started as a schoolboy in Pretoria. He attended the University of Natal, then the University of Pretoria where he graduated cum laude with an M.Sc. in Plant Ecology in 1972 and a D. Sc. in Zoology in 1975. By the time he had obtained his doctorate on giraffe biology, he had worked as a wildlife biologist at Timbavati Game Reserve and at Malawi’s Department of Forestry and Game, and as a researcher at the Mammal Research Institute, during which time he took part in the 15th SA Antarctic Expedition.
Dr Hall-Martin accomplished many of his achievements during his 25-years at South African National Parks. Over this period he was directly responsible for establishing six new national parks, including Table Mountain, Agulhas, Namaqua and Mapungubwe, raising R60-million from philanthropic donations in the process. He was responsible for the expansion of at least five other national parks, adding 400,000 hectares in total to Addo, Augrabies, Mountain Zebra,
Karoo and Marakele national parks, and had the foresight to de-proclaim the compromised Vaalbos National Park whilst laying the groundwork for its replacement – the bio-diverse Mokala National Park, soon afterwards. He was a pioneer in establishing transfrontier conservation areas and was responsible for the agreement that gave rise to the Kgalagadi ransfrontier Park straddling Botswana and South Africa, one of the world’s largest protected areas. Believing that wildlife should pay its way, he sanctioned the sale of high-value species such as white rhino and disease-free buffalo to raise much-needed funds for conservation.
As co-founder of African Parks in 2000, Dr Hall-Martin had the foresight to realize that a pragmatic new model was required to address the looming conservation crisis in many parts of Africa. As its conservation and development director, he championed African Parks’ entry into Malawi, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Zambia, and negotiated with dozens of African governments to advance the conservation of protected areas. One of his notable successes was the transformation of Majete Wildlife Reserve in Malawi from a totally depleted park to a thriving conservation success, which involved the initial restocking of over 2,500 animals. 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 under African Parks’ management until days before his death.
Dr Hall-Martin is widely renowned for his introduction of elephant and rhino to protected areas, contributing greatly to the conservation of these species. Today Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania have populations of black rhinos as a direct result of his interventions, and he was responsible for reintroducing desert black rhinos from Namibia to national parks in South Africa where they had long been extinct. He was a co-founder of the IUCN African Rhino Specialist Group and of the Rhino and Elephant Foundation and was a trusted advisor to many other organisations, including the IUCN, WWF, Endangered Wildlife Trust and Peace Parks Foundation.
During his career, he received many awards, 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.
His ten published books include renowned works such as
- Elephants of Africa; Kaokoveld – the last Wilderness;
- A Day in the Life of an African Elephant and
- Cats of Africa
and he published notable field guides to animals and national parks.
African Parks CEO Peter Fearnhead today described Dr Hall-Martin as “a true gentleman, always dignified, tactful and charming, rarely forceful about his views and self-effacing about his achievements“.
“Anthony’s life was too short-lived but his achievements were worthy of many lifetimes. He has left behind a giant legacy for the benefit of the world.”