Meet the Team


Mark D. Anderson

Chief Executive Officer

The Chief Executive Officer's responsibility is to build and sustain BirdLife South Africa into an organisation which will be recognised nationally and internationally for its professional approach and involvement of all sectors of South African society in delivering measurable success in the conservation of wild birds and their habitats.

Estelle Baker

HR Manager and Personal Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer 

Estelle is responsible for coordinating Council, Executive Board meetings and business meetings, the Gill Memorial Medal Award and, the Austin Roberts Memorial Medal Award; management of legal documentation including HR of the organisation; management of funding proposals documentation, reports to funding institutions and partnership liaison and management of BirdLife South Africa's Legacy Programme and promotion of the BirdLife National Trust.

Fanie du Plessis

Finance and Operations Manager 

Fanie is responsible for heading up the Business Division of the organisation. The programmes falling under the Business Division includes Bookkeeping, Office Administration, Membership, African Birdlife Magazine and the Wakkerstroom Centre. Fanie’s specific responsibilities include financial management, reporting and budgeting. He also serves on several committees including the Governance-, Marketing- and Magazine Management Committees.

Simon Gear

Policy & Advocacy Manager

In addition to the day to day job of bird conservation, BirdLife South Africa also has an important role to provide strategic input into South Africa’s international commitments on biodiversity. Guiding this process is the responsibility of the Policy and Advocacy Manager: liaising with government officials and our various NGO partners, sitting on regional working groups concerned with avifaunal issues and providing local and regional impetus to the global aims of BirdLife International.

Rose Knight


Rose is responsible for the bookkeeping for BirdLife South Africa, including payments of invoices, claims and salaries.

Janine Goosen

Office Administrator 

Janine is responsible for the day to day administration of Isdell House. She is also involved in administering the For The Birds! shop at Isdell House.

Shireen Gould

Membership Manager 

Shireen is responsible for overseeing the Membership Division, including the subscriptions to African Birdlife. Other responsibilities include emailing/posting membership invoices, uploading bank statements and sorting out queries on the bank statement, processing Corporate Membership, running month end reports and handling the main membership division email address and label runs for African Birdlife. Another important role is to deal with club secretaries and committee members regarding club membership.

Elaine Cherrington

Subscription Administrator 

Elaine is responsible for the administration of the African Birdlife Subscription System. This includes processing subscriptions, and responding to subscription related queries and complaints; keeping all subscriber records and renewals up to date and to ensure that all subscribers get their magazines; provide some assistance to Eve Gracie, the editor of African Birdlife, in communicating with contributors and mailing complimentary copies of the magazine to them and assisting with all aspects of membership administration.

Kathleen April-Okoye


Kathleen is responsible for the BirdLife South Africa head office Switchboard and handles and transfers incoming calls and deals with general inquiries. She is also responsible for managing the general info email address, ordering stationery and the distribution of posters, lesson plans and pin badges for the Bird of the year project, and the BirdLife South Africa official checklists and Annual Report.

Chevaughn Nagiah

DAWN Fellow of Environmental Education 

Chevaughn’s role is to establish and manage an innovative membership system for school children. Her tasks include the creation of online content and interactive tools which will introduce a large number of young people to the wonders of birds as well as nature in general.

Emma Askes

Events Co-ordinator

Emma is responsible for the organisation, including the management, administration and logistics of BirdLife South Africa’s events.


Martin Taylor

Special Projects Programme Manager 

Martin has worked for BirdLife South Africa since 2007 and is responsible for managing the Special Projects Programme, the primary focus of which is to build capacity within and assist the conservation efforts of BirdLife partners and bird orientated conservation organisations across southern Africa. He is also responsible for assisting the Birdlife International Seabird Programme activities in southern Africa and is the regional coordinator (South Africa, Namibia and Angola) for the East Atlantic Flyway Initiative. He is a member of the Technical Advisory Committee for the BirdLife Africa Secretariat. He was the lead editor of The 2015 Eskom Red Data Book of Birds of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland and is currently responsible for the compilation of the 2016 State of South Africa’s Birds Report.

Ian Owtram

Bird Guide Training Project Manager 

Ian is responsible for all matters relating to bird guide training, including making sure that any courses run by BirdLife South Africa are recognised and accredited by a registered training provider. He is also responsible for the mentoring and assisting with the marketing of existing community guides as well as developing new guides to expand the programme into new areas around the country, with the initial focus being on Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal. He is also tasked with sourcing new funding opportunities to ensure the sustainability of the programme into future years.

Dr Hanneline Smit-Robinson

Conservation Manager 

Dr Hanneline Smit-Robinson, Oppenheimer Fellow of Conservation, heads BirdLife South Africa’s Terrestrial Bird Conservation Programme and the conservation of the country’s threatened terrestrial bird species is her key responsibility. Several projects are undertaken under the auspices of the global BirdLife International Preventing Extinctions Programme.   Current projects include research and conservation for:  White-winged Flufftail;  Taita Falcon; Secretarybird; Southern Banded Snake Eagle and Southern Bald Ibis. BirdLife South Africa’s work to minimise the impacts of renewable energy on birds also forms part of the focus of the Terrestrial Bird Conservation Programme. Hanneline is passionate about the environment and to making a difference through conservation initiatives. Hanneline describes birding as a favourite pastime.

Linda van den Heever

Administrator to the IBA and Conservation Programmes 

Linda manages all administrative tasks related to the two divisions, including fundraising campaigns and related events.

Samantha Ralston

Birds and Renewable Energy Manager 

BirdLife South Africa recognises the importance of renewable energy. However, renewable energy can have negative impacts on birds and their habitats. Samantha works with government, industry and avifaunal specialists to help ensure that these impacts are minimised.

Robin Colyn

Ingula Project Manager

 Robin is responsible for providing scientific input into and coordinating ecological monitoring and research initiatives at Ingula. Situated across the escarpment between the eastern Free State and KwaZulu-Natal, Ingula and its surrounding nature reserve incorporates over 7500 ha of high altitude grasslands, approximately 1500 ha of palustrine wetlands and sections of Afrotemperate forest. Robin additionally compiles Species Action Plans (SAP) for threatened species occurring in the local and broader area, whilst also assists with the implementation of the Ingula Nature Reserve Management Plan. As part of the Southern Bald Ibis Species Champion Programme, Robin annually assesses breeding colonies within the Eastern Free State to determine breeding and/or fledging success, implements and evaluates a Southern Bald Ibis tracking initiative and coordinates species-specific environmental education.

Daniel Marnewick

Manager: Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas Programme 

Daniel is responsible for managing the Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas Programme, which is implemented by Regional Conservation Managers. Daniel also over sees the Environmental Education Programme. These programmes aim to implement the 'sites and habitats' focal area of BirdLife South Africa and achieve bird conservation through managing, protecting and assessing these key sites and habitats throughout South Africa.

Ernst Retief

Regional Conservation Manager: Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Free State 

Ernst is responsible for the implementation of the Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas Programme in the Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Free State Provinces. This work includes doing IBA assessments, support the implementation of biodiversity stewardship and the implementation of conservation actions as proposed in IBA assessments.

Nicholas Theron

Regional Conservation Manager: KwaZulu-Natal 

Nick is responsible for the implementation of the Important Bird and Biodiversity areas Programme in KwaZulu-Natal and parts of the Eastern Cape. The main focus of his work centres around securing critical habitat through Biodiversity Stewardship, contributing to improving the management of IBAs and continual updating of the IBA network to ensure that the directory remains up to date and relevant. Nick is lucky that his job allows him to explore many remote and beautiful parts of KZN and the Eastern Cape while identify sites that support often overlooked and cryptic species.

Dale Wright

Regional Conservation Manager: Western Cape 

Dale's work is focused on the Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) Programme. He completes IBA Assessments of sites in the Western and Eastern Cape, and these are used to prioritise areas for conservation action. The broader work programme requires his involvement in fundraising activities, building partnerships with other organisations, universities or members of the public and commenting on development applications. He also sits on a number of steering committees and forums to ensure the needs of birds are accounted for in the management of various sites.

Samantha Schroder

Verlorevlei Project Manager

Samantha is the Project Manager for the Verlorenvlei Protected Areas Project which is funded by the WWF Nedbank Green Trust. She is based in Piketberg in the Western Cape, near to the main project sites. The project’s focus is to establish various biodiversity stewardship options in the Moutonshoek Valley and around Verlorenvlei estuary IBA. She has completed her B.Tech in Nature Conservation and has worked and volunteered for various conservation organisations.

Giselle Murison

Western Cape Estuaries Conservation Project Manager

Giselle is the Project Manager for the Western Cape Estuaries Conservation Project. Funded by the WWF- Elizabeth Harding Bequest, the project is focused on formal protected area expansion and on improving conservation action at priority estuarine IBAs within the Fynbos. She is based in Cape Town, within reach of the initial project sites identified through the preliminary scoping phase of the project, namely the Berg River, Klein River and Bot-Kleinmond River Estuaries.

Kristi Garland

Grasslands Environmental Education Project Manager 

Kristi designs and implements BirdLife South Africa's environmental education programmes within the Grassland biome currently across Mpumalanga and the Free State. She also supports other partners and their programmes such as the WESSA Eco-Schools Programme and the Spring Alive Campaign with schools and bird clubs.

Candice Stevens

Biodiversity Stewardship Fiscal Benefits Project Manager

Candice manages the Biodiversity Stewardship Fiscal Benefits Project (the Fiscal Benefits Project) a pilot study testing the use and applicability of specific environmental taxes at key pilot sites across the country. The aim of the Fiscal Benefits Project is to determine how ‘green’ tax incentives may be used to encourage private landowners to make a conservation commitment through the national Biodiversity Stewardship initiative.  Candice is a qualified tax specialist specializing in environmental taxes and the use of tax incentives. Candice is involved in the advancement of current environmental tax incentives through policy lobbying as well as other collaborative efforts to increase the potential benefit afforded to conservation initiatives through fiscal means.

Dr Ross Wanless

Seabird Conservation Programme Manager 

Ross wears two hats – Seabird Conservation Programme Manager at BirdLife South Africa, and Africa Coordinator for the BirdLife International Marine Programme (BIMP). He devotes time to four major themes - overseeing the ATF teams in SA and Namibia, managing the African Penguin work with Christina Hagen and Taryn Morris, and working on the two core BIMP elements – marine Important Bird Areas and international fisheries policy development through the Regional Fisheries Management Organisations. For the latter, he focuses on the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission. He's initiating a new programme with a focus on invasive species management, linked to the new BLI global programme []. This is driven by the need to eradicate mice from SA’s Marion Island, and is linked to the RSPB’s plans to do the same at Gough Island. Ross's world is sometimes binary – divided into 'Seabirds' and 'Non-seabirds'. However, he's been accused of grabbing occasional opportunities during work travel to go birding for non-seabirds!

Dr Taryn Morris

Coastal Seabird Conservation Manager 

Taryn’s work, funded by the Charl van der Merwe Trust, focuses on research and advocacy linked to island closures and forage fishery impacts on penguins. The main objective of her work is to ensure that an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries management is implemented in the South African sardine and anchovy fisheries. This approach ensures that the needs of top predators, such as penguins and other seabirds, as well as the ecosystem health as a whole are integrated into fisheries management.

Adri Meyer


Adri studied Marine Environmental Law at UCT and is currently based at the Seabird Conservation Programme. Her role is to assist with BirdLife’s African Penguin projects, specifically relating to penguin tracking fieldwork. She further deals with marine mining issues and is involved with the Safeguarding our Seabed Coalition.

Christina Hagen

Pamela Isdell Fellow of Penguin Conservation

In 2015, Christina transitioned into the new role of the Pamela Isdell Fellow of Penguin Conservation, after having worked as the Coastal Seabirds Conservation Manager since 2012. She is now responsible for BirdLife South Africa’s work towards establishing a new African Penguin colony, including identifying potential sites, liaising with other stakeholders and investigating techniques to be used.

Andrea Angel

Albatross Task Force Leader  

Andrea is a Chilean national, but a Capetonian at heart. She is responsible for managing the ATF team in South Africa and lead BirdLife International policy and advocacy at the South East Atlantic Fisheries Organisation. Her role also includes overseeing and assisting with the implementation of the pilot electronic observer programmes for seabird by-catch in South Africa and Brazil. AS well as engaging with BirdLife’s Common Oceans project and leading on the new BLI global programme to eradicate mice from SA’s Marion Island.

Bokamoso Lebepe

Albatross Task Force Instructor 

Bokamoso has been part of the team since mid-2013 and his work focuses on the local and foreign longline fleet. He is responsible for briefing all foreign vessels on the regulations within the fishery before they are able to begin fishing in SA waters. In addition, he is responsible for at-sea data collection on board local longline vessels. He is currently in charge of the Electronic Monitoring system data collection and analysis pilot trial in the South African pelagic longline fishery, with a strong focus on seabird bycatch.

Reason Nyengera

Albatross Task Force Instructor 

Reason is our new ATF instructor and is responsible for our continued engagement with the Demersal Hake trawl fishery through the collection of at-sea seabird data, and the development of Bird Mitigation Plans tailored to the various types of vessels within the fleet. He is also responsible for heading up ATF engagement with the inshore Hake trawl fleet where he will conduct an assessment of the level of seabird by-catch in that fishery, conduct at-sea experiments and promote the use of seabird mitigation measures.

Emma is responsible for the organisation, including the management, administration and logistics of BirdLife South Africa’s events.