Shout about these extraordinary people, and the tireless work they do to protect our most vulnerable animals.
Wildlife if important for everybody. If we are able to help communities close to conservation areas understand the integral role that wildlife plays in maintaining ecosystems, then I think we can slowly change their perceptions of wildlife and nature.
Dr. Carlos Lopes Pereira is a passionate and dedicated conservation leader widely regarded as the face of conservation in Mozambique. Over the past 40 years he has had immeasurable impact in laying the foundations for protecting Mozambique’s natural resources, as well as building the institutional capacity to fight wildlife crime.
Although he currently serves as Director of Law Enforcement and Anti-poaching at Mozambique’s National Administration of Conservation Areas (ANAC), his background is in veterinary medicine. He is thus responsible for training a large cohort of Mozambique’s veterinarians and biologists, many of whom now work for ANAC.
In 2005, after a long and successful career in academia, Carlos was hired to oversee the wildlife restocking programme at Gorongosa National Park, left depleted by decades of civil war. Here, he threw himself wholeheartedly into the tough role of restoring the park to its former glory. Six years later he was called upon to address the horrific poaching situation at the Niassa National Reserve, a 42,300km2 conservation area and home to Mozambique’s largest elephant population.
In both roles, he risked his life in speaking out against organised poaching rings and personally co-ordinated operations on the ground with the Mozambique police, resulting in arrests of big fish in poaching syndicates.
He has also been instrumental in strengthening Mozambique’s wildlife laws to ensure harsher sentences for wildlife crime perpetrators, which has re-invigorated wildlife protection teams across the country, especially rangers previously demoralised by low conviction rates.
Perhaps one of his greatest impacts has been improving and facilitating trans- boundary collaboration between South Africa and Mozambique, especially with the Kruger National Park. There is now a seamless hand-over of wildlife crime perpetrators, making the border an interface of collaboration where it was once a barrier.
He is passionate about environmental awareness in Mozambique for students and the general public as well as lobbying national and international decision-makers. Carlos’ influence and leadership extends beyond ANAC and into the private sector and NGOs where he brings together key players to achieve a common goal. For the first time in 20 years Mozambique’s wildlife populations are stable and thriving. In the past year, not a single elephant has been poached in Niassa, once known for losing thousands of elephants in a year. None of this would be possible without Carlos’ leadership and dedication.