To achieve our holistic goal, ALERT relies on the input of a large group of people, providing industry, technical or financial expertise, operational and logistical skill, or funding and media know-how. Only through the dedication and varied opinion and experience of those that contribute to the success of our programs can we devise and implement the innovative solutions needed to achieve our vision.
As a key member of the organisation since February 2014, we are pleased to formally announce the appointment of Dr. Norman Monks as the African Lion and Environmental Research Trust’s (ALERT’s) Chief Executive Officer.
Dr. Monks, who for the last 36 years was employed by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA), brings extensive knowledge, skill, passion and expertise to the role, and is a highly regarded and markedly qualified member of the conservation community.
Norman holds an MSc in Conservation Biology from the University of Kent in Canterbury, the field work for his dissertation being carried out in Kyle Recreational Park in Zimbabwe, researching the population status, diurnal activity patterns, range and territory size, and habitat use of White Rhinoceros. He holds a Certificate in Industrial Environmental Management from Rhodes University, as well as a Doctorate in Wildlife Management from the University of the Free State. His PhD study, which focused on lions, was entitled “The Demography and Population Status of Lions (Panthera leo) in the Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe.”
During his 36 years of loyal service to the ZPWMA, Norman has run the Game Ranching Research Unit, and managed three national parks; Gonarezhou National Park, as well as two UNESCO World Heritage Sites at Mana Pools National Park and Matopos National Park. Included in his duties were the management of tourism, law enforcement, conservation, research and administration. Norman is a member of the African Lion Working Group and IUCN SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group.
Dr. Norman Monk’s contributions to conservation have been formally recognised. In 2003, he was presented with the “Researcher of the Year” award by ZPWMA, and, in 2005 Norman was awarded the “Conservationist of the Year” award by the conservation division of Safari Club International. This award acknowledged the conservation and management contribution that he had made during his long career in the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.
Commenting on his new role, Norman has said:
“During the 36 years I had the privilege to work for the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority; as ranger, technician, ecologist and manager, I have been exposed to a whole host of changes and challenges related to the environment. We know that the so-called ”rhino wars”, during which we lost valuable and special staff, did not save the rhino in those wild places where they were endemic. Now they are in smaller more controlled areas. We have seen a decrease in the elephant population in some areas of Zimbabwe and an increase in other areas where more sophisticated protection is given. We never looked at the status of lions during my tenure with Parks, however we now realise that this iconic species is also fast disappearing.
With conservation being my life’s work I am privileged to guide ALERT, an agency misunderstood by many. ALERT is an outstanding conservation organization, full of dedicated and professional people, interested only in protecting the environment, the African lion, and working with other conservation agencies to achieve this goal.
Before joining ALERT I was unaware of the many exciting community projects being undertaken, ranging from; providing low-carbon cooking stoves to help prevent woodland loss, putting in place vocational training for villagers who are currently over- utilising forests by charcoal production, reforestation efforts, assisting clinics, orphanages, old people’s homes and in community gardens for the most disadvantaged amongst our community. ALERT’s work in education is exemplary, assisting in schools with over 4000 children between them, and operating the highest standard of conservation education programmes.
ALERT’s work to date in the field of in situ conservation is also noteworthy. ALERT is supporting wild lion research in Zambia and Namibia, whilst undertaking our own studies in Zimbabwe’s Matusadona and Zambezi National Parks. ALERT is heavily involved in anti-poaching programs in many parks in Africa; training staff and assisting with logistics. ALERT works to mitigate human/wildlife conflict and also engages in conservation and research of many other species.
I am proud to take on the role of Chief Executive Officer to lead these projects, and to further expand our reach and impact. I am excited to work more closely with the many organizations with which ALERT already partners, and to forge new collaborations - I hope that all true conservationists will join hands to protect our environment and the flora and flora therein. There is hard work ahead and we need to approach it as a united body.”
David Youldon who co-founded the organization with Andrew Conolly in 2006, and has acted as Chief Operating Officer since, resigned his position at the end of 2014 citing a wish to return to field work as part of his ongoing studies. Under his guidance ALERT has grown year on year in many different areas including; the breadth and depth of the programs, funding levels, support within the conservation ‘industry’, and global reach in raising awareness of the need for urgent action to ensure a secure future for Africa’s lions.
David has been the key catalyst in enabling the success and growth of ALERT as an organisation thus far. We are sincerely appreciative for the level of commitment, dedication and determination that David has brought to the Trust. David remains a Director and member of the Executive Committee.
We are extremely honored to have Dr. Norman Monks lead ALERT as we continue in our commitment towards ensuring viable populations of African lions are maintained as an integral part of functional ecosystems. Our responsible development strategy involves a multi-disciplinary approach for the facilitation and promotion of sound conservation and management plans for the African lion (Panthera leo) and the ecosystems on which the species relies. Dr. Monks has the knowledge, skill and experience to take ALERT to the next level and we are very pleased and privileged to have him on-board. Thank you Dr. Monks and we wish you every success in your new appointment.