Les Carlisle: Group Conservation Manager
About Les Carlisle
My long history with &Beyond started in February 1991 with the creation of &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve. I am proud to say that I was a part of an instrumental team which reintroduced predators and other species onto the Reserve, as well as managed all of the game translocations that were required to get the reserve up and running. I also established the initial community relationships and development committees, and was influential in obtaining the legal and conservation permissions necessary for the establishment of a Big Five reserve on private land.
I spent several years overseeing Phinda’s regional development, and as &Beyond grew, I became more and more involved in new developments and the investigation of other countries and opportunities. My current role as Group Conservation Manager is a broad role. I represent &Beyond on the Boards of two conservation areas, assist the PR team with hosting media, and often advise the company on the proper management of conservation areas. I also have the fortune of being invited to international conferences as a keynote speaker, where I am able to talk about &Beyond’s successful business model.
I am heavily involved in sustainability initiatives, such as ‘Give More, Take Less’ whereby I encourages &Beyond’s 40 lodges and camps to maximise their positive impact while minimising their negative footprint. I love to inspire the lodges to submit their eco overheads, helping to give an overall picture of each lodge’s contribution to conservation. This is part of what making a positive difference is all about and I love every minute of doing work such as this.
With great affection I often describe my education as “a doctorate from the University of Hard Knocks”. Despite a lack of formal training, I had been involved in professional game capture and wildlife management for several years before joining Phinda.
Pioneering the chemical immobilisation of giraffe and the capture of Cape buffalo, I have translocated more than 40 000 heads of game during my career thus far, some from as far apart as Texas, USA, back to South Africa. My history with &Beyond includes everything from the project management of the construction of our first lodges to erecting more than 120 km of fencing, as well as reintroducing more than a thousand animals at &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve alone. The buffalo quarantine programme I ran at Phinda led to new national protocol for buffalo on private land. With &Beyond backing me all the way, we became the the team which was first to use sedation to socialise lions from different prides in acclimatisation pens prior to release, as well as the first to transport immobilised lions by air. The predator reintroduction programme I led at Phinda has been held up as a shining example for all other efforts and his pioneering elephant reintroductions revolutionised international capture methodologies.
The kind of work that I do has been extraordinarily rewarding for me and I have most definitely had a thoroughly wonderful time throughout it all. This kind of work forms part of why we, at &Beyond come to work every morning.
An advanced scuba diver, I have also sky dived and piloted aircraft. I have a basic practical experience in electrics, mechanics, welding, wood working and love working with my hands. I am also a keen naturalist and avid birdwatcher, and passionate about sport and flying too. I flew a micro-light over Phinda for four years in the early days of the reserve and these remain some of my most treasured memories.