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Biographies of Speakers:

The biographies of the speakers (in no particular order of preference) that gave presentations at the event on 15th November 2014 event at UCT on the main campus are shown below.

N.B Whilst we do our utmost to ensure the accuracy of the information here, the exact details regarding sessions and speakers is obviously subject to change and will be updated accordingly.

Valli Moosa - Opening Address

As Former Minister of Environment and Tourism for South Africa, Valli worked hard to raise the awareness of the problem of litter, jokingly naming plastic shopping bags the “national flower” and pushing to introduce a minimum legal thickness of 30 micrometres to increase their cost, reusability, and recyclability. He was also President of IUCN — the World Conservation Union from 2004 to 2008.He is currently Chairman of WWF, and non-executive director for various South African corporates.

Greg Du Toit
Greg, ‘Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013’, is a professional fine art wildlife photographer whose work is easily recognized by the tangible mood, primitive energy and vibrant colours that it portrays. This signature style has brought him international acclaim and he has recently exhibited with the National Geographic Society in London. He regularly places in the world’s most prestigious photographic competitions and has delivered photographic presentations from South Africa to Finland. While his work is widely published, he has also been interviewed by the BBC World Service and has appeared on the NBC’s ‘Today Show’. Greg is not only a passionate photographer, but also a passionate African who communicates his personal appreciation and awe for wild creatures through his work.www.gregdutoit.com

Marsel van Oosten
Marsel is a professional nature photographer from The Netherlands. His images are most known for his graphic approach to composition. In his work he tries to simplify, to get rid of the extraneous: Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. In addition to winning the overall title International Nature Photographer of the Year in the International Photography Awards two times in a row, his awards include three First Prizes in previous editions of the IPA, First Prize in the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year, First Prize in Natures Best International Photography Awards, two First Prizes in the Travel Photographer of the Year, and several awards in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year. His images are featured in galleries and museums, used worldwide in advertising and design, and he is a regular contributor for National Geographic.
Marsel now lives in Cape Town with producer and videographer Daniella Sibbing. Together they organize specialized wildlife and landscape photography tours and workshops for small groups of all experience levels to spectacular locations worldwide. www.squiver.com

Albie Venter
“I studied nature conservation in Cape Town and am a qualified and registered safari guide for both East and Southern Africa and have been involved in guide development and training in both South and East Africa. I have been photographing since 1997 when I started my first job in South Africa’s Lowveld. Spreading the conservation message is a vocation and I use photography as a tool to spread that message to people. I have contributed numerous wildlife articles on a variety of subjects ranging from Macro photography to Travelling to a variety of publications both in print and in digital media and include publications such as Africa Geographic, Africa Birds and Birding, African Birdlife, WILD, GO/WEG and Wild Planet. In 2009 I started my own safari company Africa Unlocked ( www.africa-unlocked.com ) specializing in privately guided photographic safaris throughout Africa’s safari circuit. I also freelance for a select few companies and agents worldwide”. www.africa-unlocked.com

Andrew Beck
“After practically growing up in the bush, I embarked on nine years of studies and research in the environmental and conservation sector, culminating in a MSc. from the University Of the Witwatersrand (WITS) in Johannesburg. This was complemented by three years spent guiding and managing exclusive
safari lodges in Madikwe Game Reserve, and six years arranging and hosting private guided safaris and photographic safaris. During this time I co-founded Wild-Eye, which specialises in African photographic safaris, photographic coaching and training, and equipment hire. With every guided and photographic safari I undertake, my aim is to ignite the same passion for photography and conservation in others. My understanding of wildlife behaviour helps me anticipate and create interesting and compelling photographic opportunities for guests whilst my knowledge of the bush allows me to take each and every guest on a journey far deeper than wildlife photography, exploring more of the ecological and conservation aspects of our natural world”. www.andrewbeck.co.za

David Rogers
David Rogers has been writing about and photographing African landscapes, lodges, wildlife and people for nearly 20 years. A previous photographer and assistant editor at Getaway and contributor to national and international titles, he is the author of more than a dozen books including Living Landscapes of Southern Africa, Zambia Landscapes and seven titles in the Safari in Style Series. He has been running an average of 10 photographic workshops a year since 2005 and has loved it every step of the way. At WildShots, David will be giving personal insights into how best to get yourself prepared for a photo workshop. He will be showing some great images and sharing amusing anecdotes stories about things that have gone wrong – and things that gone very right – on various photographic workshops he has led over the years. www.davidrogers.co.za

Alex Mazunga
Alex grew up in the Linyanti area of Botswana and has developed a deep passion for the bush. Over the last 14 years he has been involved in the tourism industry, starting out as a tracker, moving onto a professional guide. During this time, he has become an enthusiastic photographer, taking every opportunity that comes his way to explore Botswana’s most remote and beautiful areas in search of the perfect shot. Despite being busy with his General Manager duties, Alex still finds time for his favourite hobby - photography. “One of my proudest moments was winning first prize in an international photography competition – a week-long trip to Kenya!”

Samantha Reinders
Samantha Reinders freelanced for Weg/go! magazine for 5 years before becoming their Photo Editor in 2011. She looks after the magazine visually – from her desk, and from the road where she still photographs for the magazine. She also conducts photographic workshops across the country.
As well as Weg/go! her clients include Time, The New York Times, L’Express, National Geographic Books, Der Spiegel, The Chicago Tribune, The London Financial Times, MSF and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She has published and edited several books, most recently On Route in South Africa for Jonathan Ball Publishers. Samantha also teaches documentary photography at The Cape Town School of Photography. www.samreinders.com

Skye Meaker

Skye is proud to be a finalist in the 2014 International Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, 11-14 year old category. He has been interested in wildlife and conservation from a very early age. Skye learned to appreciate the bush from his parents on family safaris around Africa and was introduced by his father to nature photography - now his passion. He believes that understanding how animals behave is key to taking better pictures.
www.skyemeaker.com

Isak Pretorius
Isak is a specialist wildlife photographic guide from South Africa who runs photo safaris to iconic African destinations. He believes that the best way to protect our natural heritage is to showcase the beauty of Africa’s natural wonders in a unique and striking way.
“For me what I do is for the love of nature, and not photography necessarily. I find that photography is such a great tool to experience nature in detail and to express your creativity. I find inspiration in the beauty of the places I go to and the subjects I find. My aim is to take photos of the subjects, naturally wild and free, in their environment that showcases their beauty, unique features and characteristics. I believe that if we can show people the beauty of our natural world and get enough people to care, it’s our best chance of saving the nature that we love. Bird photography was the first genre I became very passionate about. I love birds, you find them everywhere, they always do something interesting, beautiful and even the dullest bird can look spectacular when the photographer position himself at the right angle and with the right light. I considered myself a serious hobbyist photographer until 2007 when I started leading photographic safaris to the iconic destinations in Africa. Today I’m a full-time professional wildlife photographer and specialist photographic wildlife photographic guide”. www.theafricanphotographer.com

Neil Aldridge

Renowned for his documentary photography of conservation issues and threatened wildlife, Neil works on freelance projects and commissions for magazines such as BBC Wildlife and Wild Travel, as well as his agents Nature Picture Library and NHPA. His self-funded project on African wild dogs culminated in multiple awards, international exhibitions and the publication of his acclaimed book Underdogs. He has also twice been a winner of British Wildlife Photography Awards for his work highlighting conservation issues closer to his home in the UK. Neil blends the knowledge and skills gained from both his FGASA guide training and Masters degree in photojournalism to deliver photo tours across Europe, Africa and North America. Beyond photography, Neil is a former South African international rower and enjoys the natural world through bird watching and wildlife art. www.conservationphotojournalism.com

Sophie Stafford

Sophie was the Editor of BBC Wildlife Magazine for over eight years. During this time, she also helped to manage and judge the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, which is co-owned by the BBC and London’s Natural History Museum, and joined the juries of many of the world’s greatest photo competitions, from World Press Photo Award in Amsterdam to the Golden Turtle festival in Moscow. An affiliate of the International League of Conservation Photographers, she’s worked closely with photographers from around the world, supporting innovative projects, developing talent and showcasing the best stories in the magazine. Sophie now works as a magazine consultant, editor and travel writer, helping leading wildlife and animal welfare charities such as the RSPB and WWF-UK to improve engagement with their members through powerful story-telling and visual imagery. She is also a photography judge for the British Wildlife Photography Awards and a new international wildlife photography competition, due to launch this year. www.sophie-stafford.com

Bridgena Barnard
Bridgena’s dedication, energy, perseverance and her artistic side is the epitome of her photography. Her love for nature and her acknowledgement of the natural beauty of Africa, is her canvas! Bridgena grew up on a farm in the North West of South Africa, her grandfather and parents instilling the respect for nature and love of the wild side of Africa. She is a qualified teacher and at the age of 26 became an entrepreneur. Her artistic side was always there but her main priority has been raising two daughters. It is their encouragement and motivation that has spurred her on, to dedicate more time to wildlife photography, leaving them many times at home due to their educational demands.
“My whole body and soul is rejecting city life – and this is my affirmation, organising my next visit to a favourite wild life photography destination”. www.images-at-bridgena.com

Morkel Erasmus

Morkel is known for his engaging and intimate portrayal of Africa’s wildlife through his photography. An early adopter of various social media platforms and a dedicated community-builder and engager, Morkel sports an online following of over 300,000 across various social networks. He is a prolific blogger as well: contributing educational, instructional, conservation and inspirational content to his own blog as well as other well-known platforms like the Wild Eye blog, the Africa Geographic blog and the Digital Photography School. His passion for Africa and its natural heritage, and for connecting people, shines through in his photography, his honest exchanges with others and his total work ethic. www.morkelerasmus.com

Heinrich van den Berg

South Africa based photographer, Heinrich van den Berg specializes in nature, environmental and travel photography. He has spent many years in the field, capturing images of African wildlife and the natural beauty of the continent. He has won numerous international photographic awards and his photographs grace numerous books, calendars, magazine portfolios and photographic products worldwide. Van den Berg’s photographs are known for breaking boundaries and depicting the natural world in a fresh and evocative way. Although he specializes in environmental photography, Van den Berg has a gift for photographing the charm and idiosyncrasies of people in their natural environment. He has photographed and published more than 20 highly acclaimed photographic books and is intimately involved with the reproduction and printing process – from the colour correction to the design and final production of his sought-after wildlife books. He is the founder of the publishing company HPH Publishing. www.heinrichvandenberg.com

Matthew Schurch

By day Matthew is a professional astronomer working at UCT. However, by night he identifies and studies the leopards of the Kalahari. Using his expertise as an astronomer, Matthew developed an identification guide in 2011 and launched the Kgalagadi Leopard Project later that year. This came about following his first visit to the Kgaladadi Transfrontier Park, when on his very first evening he spotted a leopard walking at night. Since then, a total of 84 leopards have been identified through the approximately 1500 sightings that have been submitted by around 400 photographers and tourists. This is enabling Matthew to help unravel and reveal the secret life histories of this elusive predator. www.ast.uct.ac.za/~schurch/leopards/schurch.html

Brandon de Kok

Brandon has been telling stories with words, pictures and microphones for the past 25 years. As a writer and photographer, he’s had too much to eat and drink on all seven continents, mastered the dark art of editing (anything really) and played the role of creative director for RamsayMedia, publishers of Getaway, CAR and other special interest titles. In 2013, he was appointed to the curatorial panel for the Cape Town World Design Capital 2013 program and, together with his partner Nikki, released his first cook book - Cook. Better. When he’s not travelling or telling stories, he’s a partner in and creative director of a research business called WhyFive Strategic Insights.