History and Overview

Founding and early history of The Southern African Wildlife Management Association (SAWMA)

Refer to SAWMA Anniversary Conference for a complete overview and reflections:


The first idea of a professional body to represent the growing number of wildlife management and research scientists in the country was born during an informal gathering of a few young, enthusiastic scientists in Pretoria around 1968/1969. They were Dr Bob Brain (Director of the then Transvaal Museum), Dr John Vincent (Formerly from the then Natal Parks Board), Dr Naas Rautenbach (also of Transvaal Museum) and Dr Dave Simpson (then a research fellow and lecturer at Texas A&M University).

They were soon joined by other scientists in the field of wildlife research who felt strongly that wildlife management needed to develop as a science of its own.  The result was The Southern African Wildlife Management Association which was formally constituted on 22 August 1970.  By the end of 1970 the association had about 77 members. An inaugural meeting to formally launch the association took place at the Transvaal Museum on 3 April 1971 and a committee was elected to hold office until the first AGM in 1971. Dr Dave Simpson was the first president from the time SAWMA was constituted to the first AGM in 1971. By then the numbers of SAWMA have increased to 171 members.

Initially the Wildlife Society of South Africa, with Dr Nolly Zaloumis as president, offered its support by helping to get the association off the ground. Initially the secretariat of the Wildlife Society was used for all the correspondence and other administrative matters.  For the first year or two SAWMA remained under the auspices of the Wildlife Society, but under the presidency and guidance of the very dynamic Dr Eddie Young who became president after Dr Dave Simpson, SAWMA soon become self-sustaining. 

An international symposium on wildlife management, “Wildlife Conservation and Utilisation in Africa”, supported by substantial sponsorship from a wide variety of commercial concerns, was held at the University of Pretoria in June 1973.  Prof J du P (Koos) Bothma then became president of the association until 1976, when Prof John Skinner took over the presidency. In 1977 the Association hosted the second international Symposium on African Wildlife Ecology.

Early history of the Journal

The first journal issue of SAWMA was published in 1971 and was initially called The Journal of the Southern African Wildlife Management Association.  Dr Dave Simpson made the drawing of the zebra on the cover of the first journal and one can only guess that this is why the SAWMA ended up with a zebra for its logo! Altogether 10 issues were published in the first five volumes of the Journal (1971 – 1975). From 1976 (Volume 6) the journal was renamed as the South African Journal of Wildlife Research.

Initially the publishing cost of the journal was carried by the Wildlife Society. This explains the display of logos of both the Wildlife Society and the Southern African Wildlife Management Association on all the journals up to volume 12 in1982.

Dr Naas Rautenbach, also president in later years (1983-1984), was the first editor of the journal, but the following year, editorial duties were taken over by Dr Stan Hirst. Dr Rautenbach served on the editorial committee for a many of years until 2000. 

Dr Pat Condy, previously curator of the Johannesburg Zoo, was scientific editor from 1976 – 1977, when Prof Jan Nel was appointed as editor. In later years Pat Condy also served as Honorary Treasurer for a period of 10 years, during which he established the association’s first computerised membership database and annual fee billing system during that time.

Only recently (in 2015) the journal was renamed to African Journal of Wildlife Research – publishing research from the African continent and also including research done on Arabian and Malagasy species.

SAWMA presidents: 1970 –2021

Dr Dave Simpson              1970 – 1971

Dr Eddie Young                 1971 – 1973`

Prof Koos Bothma             1974 – 1975

Dr Stan Hirst                     1975 – 1976

Prof John Skinner              1976 – 1977

P le S Milstein                   1977 – 1978

Dr Nolly Zaloumis              1978 – 1979

Dr Neil Fairall                    1979 – 1980

Dr Butch Smuts                 1980 – 1981

Dr Richard Liversidge        1981 – 1982

Dr Naas Rautenbach         1983 – 1984

Dr Piet Mulder                   1985 – 1986

Prof Banie Penzhorn         1987 – 1988

Mr Dick Parris                   1989 – 1990

Dr Ortie Bourquin              1991 – 1992

Dr Neil Fairall                    1993 – 1994

Prof Tim Crowe                 1995 – 1997

Dr Kas Hamman               1998 – 2000

Prof Rudi van Aarde          2001 – 2004

Prof Johan du Toit             2004 – 2005

Dr Christo Marais               2005 – 2008

Mr Julius Koen                  2008 – 2010

Prof Brian Reilly                2010 – 2012

Prof Louw Hoffman           2012 – 2014

Dr Harriet Davies-Mostert  2014 – 2016

Prof Paul Grobler               2016 – 2018

Prof Dan Parker                 2018 – 2021

Dr Kelly Marnewick            2021 – 2023

Journal Editors from 1971 – 2021

Dr. Naas Rautenbach        1971 – 1972

Dr. Stan Hirst                    1972 – 1975

Dr. Pat Condy                   1975 – 1977

Prof. Jan Nel                     1977 – 1980

Dr. Neil Fairall                   1980 – 1986

Dr. Dave Rowe-Rowe        1986 – 1993

Dr. Rob Little                     1993 – 1997

Mr. Julius Koen                 1997 – 2001

Dr. Belinda Reyers            2001 – 2004 

Prof. Michael Cherry          2004 – 2007

Dr. Michael Somers           2007 – 2010

Prof. Mike Perrin               2010 – 2014

Prof Dan Parker                2014 – current

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