Keeping conservation in the family

Our Group Conservation Manager, Les Carlisle, beams with pride as his two sons follow in his footsteps…

I have been employed by &Beyond for 27 years and I can honestly say it’s a company that genuinely feels more like a family. When you look at the way most companies operate, you’ll see countless ideas for keeping staff motivated in the workplace, from financial rewards to motivational incentives.

Here at &Beyond, we have our own very tangible culture of care. Our company ethos is Care of the Land, Care of the Wildlife, (and, most importantly) Care of the People. This simple mantra is our call to action and everything we do as &Beyonders relates back to this culture of care and respect.

When I first joined &Beyond, I can say whole-heartedly that it was the company’s (then farfetched) vision to make a sustainable and meaningful difference to both conservation and communities that I bought into. Who would have thought that this vision, which was once ridiculed and discredited by the naysayers, would not only prove to be viable and successful, but would also remain unchanged for 27 years?

My wife Lynette and I were privileged to be able to raise both of our children, Damian and Dean, at &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve in South Africa. At the time, we never really considered what effect this pristine environment would have on the kids. We eventually left &Beyond Phinda for the small holiday town of White River, mainly so that we could enrol the boys at a good school.

Much to my delight, both Damian and Dean had more than an average interest in the natural world and its wildlife. Not to mention the fact that all four of us are keen birders. This meant we could all escape back to the bush as a family as often as humanly possible. White River is a mere 40‑minute drive from the world-renowned Kruger National Park.

My eldest son Damian really excelled at school, both on the academic and sporting fronts, as well as from a leadership perspective. He soon went off to university to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering. With the academics for his degree completed, you can imagine my surprise (and delight) when Damian signed up with Tracy & Du Plessis Game Capture, a Zululand-based wildlife translocation company, for a year while he completed his final practical engineering project. Following in his father’s footsteps, I couldn’t have been more proud.

Only a parent can understand the pleasure of doing things with your kids and I recently had the absolute privilege of catching critically endangered rhino with Damian for one of our recent Rhinos Without Borders translocations. The pride and joy of being with your son doing things that you both love is quite remarkable and it’s a memory I will cherish.

My youngest son Dean has always had a passion for wildlife, so I was not surprised when he signed up for a Bachelor’s Degree in Zoology at the same university as his older brother. Just like his brother, Dean also performed exceptionally at school, and clearly stood out both academically and athletically. When Dean was on holiday from university this year, he was also able to me on a Rhinos Without Borders project, helping us to fit radio telemetry devices on endangered rhino that were being translocated to safer havens.

So, this very proud father who has chosen wildlife translocation as my own career has now had the ultimate opportunity to work with both of my sons on important conservation initiatives out in the field. They say birds of a feather flock together … Damian, Dean and I share a unified passion for conservation and I couldn’t be more proud to see that the Carlisles are keeping conservation in the family. Here’s to you Damian and Dean, may you go on to become the next generation of conservation heroes and continue to live your lives doing what you love.

All black & white images courtesy of Charlie Dailey.


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