Anthony Hall-Martin, 68, died of cancer on May 21, 2014.
Author of 10 books and more than 80 published scientific papers, Hall-Martin during a long tenure as chief of conservation development for the South African National Park Service led the establishment of Table Mountain National Park, overlooking Cape Town, and other national parks including Agulhas, Namaqua, and Mapungubwe.
Hall-Martin also significantly expanded the Addo, Augrabies, Mountain Zebra, Karoo, and Marakele national parks––and controversially delisted Vaalbos National Park, which had been compromised by diamond mining and land claims, replacing it by creating Mokoala National Park in the same region.
In addition, Hall-Martin pioneered the creation of transfrontier conservation areas, personally negotiating the formation of the Kgalagadi Tronsfrontier Park along the border of Botswana and South Africa.
Under international pressure, Hall-Martin in 1995 suspended culling elephants within the South African national parks, promoting the development of suitable methods of contraception instead, along with translocating elephants deemed surplus to Mozambique, whose native elephant population had been poached out during a 15-year civil war, 1977-1992.
But Hall-Martin also lobbied for South Africa to be allowed to sell stockpiled ivory confiscated from poachers and taken from from culled elephants, contrary to the terms of the 1989 global moratorium on ivory trafficking introduced by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. In 1999 elephant culling resumed in Kruger National Park. Many more years of lobbying later, CITES in 2008 allowed South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe to sell 108 metric tons of ivory, touching off resurgent poaching that remains out of control to this day.
Hall-Martin meanwhile left SANPARKS, and in 2000, in partnership with Dutch billionaire Paul van Vlissingen (1941-2006), cofounded African Parks, a Johannesburg-based nonprofit park management service that now operates seven national parks in six countries.
As conservation and development director for African Parks, Hall-Martin “championed the organization’s entry into Malawi, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Zambia,” recalled African Parks chief executive officer Peter Fearnhead. “One of his notable success stories was the transformation of Majete Wildlife Reserve in Malawi from a totally depleted park to a thriving conservation success involving an initial restocking of over 2,500 animals including elephant, black rhinoceros, buffalo, sable antelope, zebra, lion and leopard. At the time of his death,” Fearnhead added, “Anthony was a board member of Majete Wildlife Reserve, Liuwa Plain National Park in Zambia and Akagera National Park in Rwanda.”
Hall-Martin’s initiatives under the African Parks banner proved particularly controversial in Ethiopia, where at his insistence about 5,000 members of the Kore tribe were evicted from Nechisar National Park in 2004-2005.
(See also Dexter Chilunda, head of law enforcement at Liuwa Plain National Park in Zambia, and Evictions to clear a park in Ethiopia.)
Kathryn Pon says
I don’t think many of us will forget the 1989 and 2011 images of Kenya wildlife authorities burning tons of stockpiled ivory. The South Africans took a different route. There have been so many debates in the last decades about how to fund conservation programs, how to disarm the decommissioned renegade soldiers who become poachers, how to discourage the local bush meat markets and end the international trade in wildlife parts. I think most national programs have been too conservative and more action is required as we are now in the era of extinction.