What Makes A Winning Conservation Team?


Through my conservation work, I travel widely across the African continent and have had the privilege of visiting and assessing the management effectiveness of many protected areas. Without a doubt, I can confidently say that Phinda Private Game Reserve, set in the Zululand Bushveld of South Africa, has to be one of the best-managed conservation areas that I have come across. What makes this such a successful reserve? 

On my latest visit to Zululand, I joined the Phinda team from @Beyond during the re-collaring of one of their African Elephant matriarchs. They have been undertaking monitoring and research on all of their priority species, including the elephant, for many years and this has helped guide management decision-making.

For the re-collaring to be a success, teamwork was absolutely vital and this, in my mind, is the core of why Phinda is so well managed. This teamwork can only be achieved through excellent leadership and a fantastic group of individuals that work tirelessly at ground level with the strong support from an able bodied executive. Not only does the Phinda team work exceptionally hard, but they are also positive, friendly and always have time for a good laugh – this is a rare find in conservation these days!

For the re-collaring of this magnificent elephant cow it was necessary for a team consisting of the helicopter pilot, vet, ecologists, security team and reserve operational management to all have worked closely together. This they did in an extremely professional manner and each indiviual carried out their specific role perfectly. Thanks for allowing me the privilege of joining you during a special event!

This project is carried out in partnership with the Game Rangers Association of Africa (GRAA) that provides support, networks and representation for game rangers across Africa. This conservation photography project will use rangers as the “lead characters” to highlight the issues faced by conservationists and showcase opportunities for improved support of rangers in the future. Positive and targeted messages will be communicated that emphasise the critical role that rangers play in African conservation in ensuring that the continent’s natural heritage is preserved for the benefit of future generations. Support Africa’s Rangers by supporting the GRAA.

Peter Chadwick is a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) whose mission is to further environmental and cultural conservation through photography. The iLCP’s goal is to use the art of high-quality photography to encourage people to take action in support of tangible and meaningful conservation measures.

Visit African Conservation Photography for a full gallery of Ranger images.