Founder and Chair
Marlene spent much of her childhood in the African bush. Her father was a founder of the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, and at a young age she was inspired by the words of King George VI: “The wildlife of today is not ours to dispose of as we please. We have it in trust. We must account for it to those who come after.” She became a dedicated conservationist and has devoted much of her life to the conservation of elephants and the environment.
Marlene gained a Bachelor of Arts degree in languages and philosophy and a Higher Teachers‘ Diploma at UCT and went on to work in advertising. She developed and ran several iconic commercial properties, including Tanda Tula Safari Camp and Constantia Uitsig Wine Farm with its hotel and award-winning restaurants.
She served as a board member on the Timbavati Exco for 13 years. In 1998 she and Dr Iain Douglas-Hamilton of Save the Elephants collared the first elephants in the Timbavati.
In 2001 Marlene was granted The Freedom of the City of London for her role in wildlife conservation. Two years later she and Iain founded Save the Elephants South Africa which later became Elephants Alive.
CBE, Scientific Advisor
Dr Iain Douglas Hamilton
One of the world’s foremost authorities on the African elephant, Dr Douglas-Hamilton’s pioneering work started in the mid 1960’s and paved the way for much of today’s understanding of elephants and current conservation practices.
During the 1970’s he was the first to alert the world to the ivory poaching holocaust. He founded Save the Elephants (STE) in 1993. Iain has authored many scientific papers and is the recipient of numerous international awards for his work to protect Africa’s elephants.
After pioneering deployment of satellite elephant tracking collars in the Timbavati in 1998, Iain and Marlene McCay founded STE- South Africa, extending the organisation’s research and philosophy to the Southern African region. Dr Michelle Henley was employed as chief scientist, and after 12 years of active elephant research and conservation STE-SA evolved proudly into the independent entity, Elephants Alive.
Dr Kate Evans
Kate is Founder and Director of Elephants for Africa.
She is an award-winning behavioural ecologist and conservation biologist who conducted her PhD ‘The behavioural ecology and movements of adolescent male African elephant in the Okavango Delta, Botswana’ through the University of Bristol.
Her interest in male elephants has expanded to focus on the social and ecological requirements of male elephants in the context of a human landscape.
Barry was the former division manager of Atlas and vice president of the South African Bureau of Standards, with many years of experience in intellectual property and patents.
He has a Business Leadership Post Graduate Degree from UNISA, and attended the University of Berkeley’s ‘Advanced Management Course’ in California.
Barry brings with him a vast amount of experience in Information Technology, database and business management.
Sarah completed her B.Comm degree at UCT and then worked in the graphic design industry for many years.
Here she gained experience in running a small business including all aspects of finance, marketing and branding.
Sarah is passionate about the environment and conservation and was thrilled to become a board member of Elephants Alive in 2009.
She advises on marketing, administration and brand management.
In 2017 she was named as one of “The ten most inspiring women in South Africa” and in 2013 she won WESSA (Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa)’s National Award for an Individual.
Director, Co-founder & Principal Researcher
Dr Michelle Henley
Michelle has been studying elephants for 25 years, and has adopted an interdisciplinary approach, skilfully combining scientific research with education and awareness-raising. She works closely with scientists, private landowners, subsistence farmers and politicians.
She has a PhD, from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, is a Post-doctoral Fellow at the Applied Behavioural Ecology and Environmental Research Unit of the University of South Africa, Trustee of the Elephant Specialist Advisory Group of South Africa and Elephants for Africa. She is an invited member for the African Elephant Specialist Group for the Species Survival Commission of the IUCN.
Michelle has published more than 50 peer-reviewed scientific publications and contributed to numerous books and popular publications. In 2009 she undertook a Post Graduate Certificate in Education in order to be better equipped to teach children about the environment. In 2019 Michelle won South Africa’s prestigious SANParks Kudu Award for Conservation and was listed as one of 50 most influential voices in all aspects of the environment in South Africa.
Co-Opted Board Members in an Advisory Capacity
Dr. Carlos Lopes Pereira
Carlos is the Director of Protection and Law Enforcement (ANAC), Mozambique.
He is a wildlife veterinarian by profession having worked with wildlife related matters for the last 30 years as university lecturer at the Veterinary Faculty, as field veterinarian at Gorongosa National Park during its early years of restoration and then at law enforcement at different levels until the position of Director at The National Administration of Conservation Areas, Ministry Land and Environment.
In recognition of his work, Carlos was awarded Tusk’s Prince William Award for Conservation in 2019 and recently the Medal of Environment by the Government of Mozambique.
Alex is the Head of Wildlife Conservation & Trade for the Oak Foundation. She brings 25 years’ experience in environment and international development in the public and private sectors, particularly in the areas of climate, energy, food, natural resource management, conservation, and legal/illegal wildlife trade.
She’s held senior-level responsibilities in grant making; international, regional and local project design; monitoring and evaluation; management; economic/policy analysis; and strategic communications.
Alex has an MSc in in public policy and international economic development from Duke University and is now doing her PhD in behavioural economics.
With over 20 years of experience in the non-profit sector, Sarah is an experienced fundraising and communications practitioner.
After completing her studies in communications, Sarah entered the commercial PR world until finding her true passion for the social impact sector through the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), where she spent 12 years as a campaigner and then headed their Emergency Relief programme. In 2008, she joined the Cape of Good Hope SPCA as head of Fundraising and Communication.
Following a three-year term as an Advisory Panel Member for the Resource Alliance’s International Fundraising Congress (IFC), in 2015 joined the Resource Alliance team and today she heads up the Resource Alliance’s Global Programmes and Partnerships.