Simon Naylor has been an integral part of &Beyond’s conservation and guiding teams for the better part of two decades
After completing a degree in nature conservation, Simon joined &Beyond as a guide at &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve. When he got his first glimpse of the sand forest and plains of Phinda, as well as the Indian Ocean and Lake St Lucia, from the plane that was bringing him to his new home, an enduring love affair was born.
Five years later, the exciting opportunity arose for Simon to take &Beyond’s ranger training programme to East Africa. The Mwewe Ranger Training School was launched and Simon communicated the &Beyond way throughout Kenya and Tanzania, exploring the region’s most remote and beautiful natural sanctuaries in the process.
After nearly four years, Simon was due for a change of scenery and moved to Kasane to take charge of &Beyond’s Botswana Mobile Camping Expeditions. In 2006, when fate came knocking with an opportunity to return to Phinda, he accepted the position of Reserve Manager without hesitation.
For Simon, no two days at work are ever the same and he revels in caring for all aspects of wildlife and habitat management both at Phinda and for the entire Munyawana Conservancy. He has also brought his skill to bear on formulating national conservation strategies for elephant, lion, cheetah and both black and white rhino. Simon considers himself blessed to have worked in some of Africa’s most beautiful and pristine wilderness areas. Watching wildebeest cross the Mara River, seeing wild dog hunting in the Selous and herds of elephant swimming across the Chobe River, stargazing in the Namib Desert and scuba diving off &Beyond Mnemba Island are all special moments for him.
- 1995 – 1996: Ranger at &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, South Africa
- 1998 – 2001: Senior Ranger at &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, South Africa
- 2001 – 2004: Field Operations Manager – East Africa, Tanzania & Kenya
- 2004 – 2006: Botswana Operations Manager, Botswana
- 2006 – current: Conservation Manager, &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, South Africa
- Establishing the &Beyond ranger training programme in East Africa
- Managing and running &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve as a world class conservation success
- Formulating national conservation strategies for elephant, lion, cheetah and rhino
- Part of the project team for the reintroduction of pangolin into &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve
- Recipient of the Land of Legends Ingwazi Award in 2016
- Named Wildlife Ranching South Africa KZN Game Farmer of the Year in 2015 and 2017
- Founding member of Project Rhino KZN, as well as the Lion Management Forum
- Director of stoprhinopoaching.com and founder of the Zululand Conservation Fund (soon to be the Munyawana Conservancy Conservation Fund), both NGOs involved in rhino security and conservation