“Rob was born and grew up in South Africa and has always had a keen interest in wildlife and conservation but with a career in civil engineering and the construction industry did not have much opportunity to fulfil that interest. He met his wife, Marion, in SA before coming to live in the UK with their 3 children. When their son Mark completed his A-levels and wanted to gain work experience on a game reserve in South Africa before starting university, they managed to arrange for him to spend a few months working on a game reserve. On hearing this, many of his friends from school wanted to join him. This was the seed of the idea for African Conservation Experience and Rob started ACE in 1998, with plenty of assistance and support from Marion.
Mark was the guinea pig and a few conservation projects were set up with the co-operation of game reserve land owners in southern Africa. Recruitment of volunteers in the UK commenced, and in 1999 the volunteers started arriving on the projects. “We were astounded with the amount of interest and support we received from volunteers and the growth in the number of projects and volunteers has been amazing. We have learned many valuable lessons along the way and now have a very loyal and committed team in the UK and southern Africa doing great work.”