Above Picture: Anton Wolfaardt on the south coast of Marion Island, May 2021

The Project Manager, Anton Wolfaardt, has featured in a number of news articles posted on the Mouse-Free Marion (MFM) website. In this post, which forms part of the ‘Meet the Team’ series, we formally introduce Anton, who took up the role of MFM Project Manager in February 2021.

Anton has worked for more than 25 years in the field of seabird and marine conservation, a journey which started on Marion Island in 1994, where he spent a year working as a seabird field researcher. He subsequently spent five years on Dassen Island, off the west coast of South Africa, working initially as a contract researcher and later as the conservation manager of the island. One of the main focuses of Anton’s research at Dassen Island was to assess the impact of oil pollution events, including two large oil spills – from the Apollo Sea in 1994 and the Treasure in 2000 – on the biology, ecology and conservation status of African Penguins. This research formed part of Anton’s PhD research, which he completed at the University of Cape Town in 2007. After leaving Dassen Island, Anton worked as a Regional Ecologist for CapeNature, the conservation authority for the Western Cape Province of South Africa.

In 2008, Anton headed to the Falkland Islands to take up the newly created position with the Joint Nature Conservation Committee of ACAP (Agreement on the Conservation of Albatross and Petrels) Co-ordinator for the United Kingdom (UK) South Atlantic Overseas Territories, including the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Tristan da Cunha (including Gough Island) and the UK’s interest in Antarctica. The position was based in the Falkland Islands, with regular travel to and work in the other territories.

After returning to South Africa in late 2013, Anton continued to serve as the Co-convenor of ACAP’s Seabird Bycatch Working Group and worked as an environmental consultant focusing on seabird and marine issues, as well as a lecturer and guide on expedition ships visiting the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic regions. In February 2021, Anton took up his current position of MFM Project Manager.

An old male Wandering Albatross near Prinsloomeer, Marion Island; photograph by John Cooper

Anton is passionate about nature conservation and has focused most of his career thus far on the conservation of seabirds, islands, and the marine environment. He reports that he is hugely honoured to have been afforded the opportunity to play a role in the MFM Project. “It is an opportunity to be part of a project that will make a significant and meaningful contribution to the seabirds and ecology of Marion Island, and to be part of an endeavour that will involve many organisations and individuals working in partnership towards that aim. These benefits will extend beyond the island itself. Marion and nearby mouse-free Prince Edward Island host large proportions of the global populations of several seabird species. Marion alone supports a quarter of the world’s Wandering Albatrosses, which are at risk to the island’s mice. Their future is in our hands. The MFM Project can help secure a positive conservation future for this important sub-Antarctic island and the seabirds and other wildlife that call it home”.

John Cooper, Member, Scientific and Technical Advisory Group, Mouse-Free Marion Project, 16 August 2021