Above Picture: BirdLife South Africa’s CEO, Mark Anderson, chairs the Mouse-Free Marion Management Committee

In a “Meet the Team” series of occasional posts, the Mouse-Free Marion (MFM) website aims to introduce key role players who either are employed by the project or serve on the several bodies that offer direction and advice.  Previous posts have introduced Anton Wolfaardt, the Project Manager (on the Albatross and Petrel Agreement’s website), and Keith Springer, the Operations Manager.  Future posts will introduce the Campaign and Communications Managers once they have been appointed, as well as the members of the MFM Management Committee.  In this post Mark Anderson, who chairs the Management Committee, describes his passion for conservation, his career and his role within the project and its importance.

“Mark Anderson, the Chief Executive Officer of BirdLife South Africa, is a passionate conservationist. Growing up in Pretoria, South Africa, with frequent visits to the bush with his grandfather, Graham Anderson, Mark became interested in the natural environment. It was while spending time in nature that he became fascinated by birds and mammals. He studied at the University of Pretoria where he obtained a MSc (cum laude) for a study on the ecophysiological adaptations of Aardwolves to a diet of termites and especially how they survive four months of the year when these insects are unavailable. Mark met Tania, his wife, at university, and she has pursued a career as a botanist. Tania, who was the herbarium curator at the McGregor Museum in Kimberley for 24 years, is one of the world experts on the flora of the Kalahari. Mark and Tania moved to Kimberley in 1988 for Mark’s Aardwolf studies. After this work was completed, he took up the position of ornithologist with the then Northern Cape Department of Nature Conservation, a position he held for 18 years. During this time Mark became a world authority on the biology and conservation of flamingos and Old World vultures. Mark and Tania’s children, Ryan and Stephanie, were educated at St Patrick’s College in Kimberley, and then at the University of Cape Town. They are knowledgeable natural historians and passionate conservationists, but pursued careers in computer engineering and computer science.

Mark took up his position at BirdLife South Africa in 2008 and, with his team of hardworking and dedicated colleagues, has transformed the organization into one of the leading conservation NGOs in Africa. Mark’s philosophy has been to create an enabling environment for good staff to flourish, and BirdLife South Africa’s staff have indeed flourished. Their hard work, dedication, passion, and innovation are resulting in numerous conservation successes. Mark has innumerable responsibilities as BirdLife South Africa’s CEO, most important of which is to ensure that the organization has the resources to undertake its work.

Mouse-Free Marion (MFM) is the most important and certainly the most expensive project that BirdLife South Africa has ever undertaken. Mark is determined to ensure that the project is a success because of the enormous benefits an island devoid of mice will have for a range of seabird species, as well as invertebrates and plants, and of course the island’s ecological processes. The successful completion of the MFM Project will be the pinnacle of Mark’s career.

Mark is honoured to be part of the accomplished team that is being assembled to undertake this important project. His involvement with the MFM Project will be as one of the directors of the MFM Non-Profit Company, as Chairman of the MFM Management Committee, and through his assistance with fundraising.

Mark encourages people to support the project, and thus become contributors to one of the most important and indeed even one of the most ambitious conservation projects that has ever been undertaken.”

John Cooper, Member, Scientific and Technical Advisory Group, Mouse-Free Marion Project, 04 August 2021