Above picture:  Alastair Stalker, conservation volunteer

Alastair Stalker is one of the many unsung heroes who has quietly supported the Mouse-Free Marion (MFM) Project in its aim of ridding the island of its invasive House Mice.  His sponsoring of 35 hectares places him in the “Grey Petrel” category of donors, along with a handful of others.  On approach by MFM News he replied that he generally tries to keep his wildlife conservation donations under the radar, but then went on to say “however, in this case, if you think it may help raise additional funds, I’m willing to cooperate.”

Alastair writes about himself: “I live on the West Rand in Johannesburg.  I’m retired and I was the Director of a mining company, Assore Ltd.  I was an exploration geologist in my first life and spent time in various parts of Botswana and South Africa, where I was surrounded by a lot of wildlife and biodiversity.  When I retired, I wanted to increase my knowledge and so I did the basic Field Guides Association of Southern Africa (FGASA) qualification.  I have done some guiding for a small reserve near Rustenburg and I still assist as a relief guide for the Cradle Nature Reserve situated in Gauteng Province.  I particularly enjoy sharing my knowledge of geology, nature and palaeoanthropology with children and young adults”.  The private reserve falls within The Cradle of Humankind complex of archaeological sites, which forms part of the Fossil Hominid Sites of South Africa World Heritage Site.

At serious risk to mice. A Grey Petrel chick in its winter burrow on Marion Island, watercolour by Colleen Laird of Artists & Biologists Unite for Nature for the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels; after a photograph by Michelle Risi

He continues: “I’ve done quite a bit of conservation volunteering over the last few years and I’m in a position to assist financially some of the most deserving NPOs of which BirdLife South Africa is one.  I’m also a big fan of African Wild Dogs and really want to see new packs formed, especially in the north of KwaZulu-Natal Province.”

Alastair adds “I learnt about the Mouse Free Marion Project from BirdLife South Africa when I spent a few days at Zimanga Private Nature Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal this year with BirdLife South Africa’s CEO Mark Anderson, where his enthusiasm was infectious.  In response Mark Anderson comments “He is a real gentleman and is dedicating his retirement to assist causes which are important to him”.

Alastair concludes: “I didn’t go on the Flock to Marion 2022 voyage and am very sorry I didn’t.  I’m not a skilled birder but I love being out in the bush with experts.  I’ve seen albatrosses and petrels on a trip to Alaska and I was appalled at the thought of both their chicks and adults being eaten alive by mice on Marion Island.”

Every hectare sponsor receives a personal Certificate of Appreciation


The MFM Project expresses its thanks to Alastair Stalker, and to the over 1920 individuals and organizations so far who have sponsored a hectare or more.  The MFM team members doff our own battered bush hats in grateful recognition of you all.  New sponsors will be greatly welcomed!

John Cooper, News Correspondent, Mouse-Free Marion Project, 12 December 2023


A Southern Giant Petrel pair on Marion Island; photograph by Janine Schoombie and poster design by Michelle Risi

The Mouse-Free Marion Project is a registered non-profit company (No. 2020/922433/08) in South Africa, established to eradicate the invasive albatross-killing mice on Marion Island in the Southern Ocean.  The project was initiated by BirdLife South Africa and the South African Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment.  Upon successful completion, the project will restore the critical breeding habitat of over two million seabirds, many globally threatened, and improve the island’s resilience to a warming climate.  For more information or to support the project please visit mousefreemarion.org.