Neil Midlane, PhD

Neil Midlane, PhD

Neil Midlane is a lifelong conservationist, adventurer, and academic. In April 2022, Neil joined The Nature Conservancy, the world’s largest conservation NGO, as Director of Conservation Tourism, where his primary focus is to increase the positive impact of conservation tourism on  the protection of wilderness and wildlife and the empowerment of local people. Neil is passionate about all things wild, and spends his free time running Cape Town’s mountain trails, paddling its oceans, fly fishing, and camping - while introducing his children, Oliver and Lexi, to the magic of the natural world.

After growing up in East London, Neil studied finance at Stellenbosch University, which led to him qualifying as a Chartered Accountant. Immediately after qualifying he headed off to the Zululand bush, where he spent 3 years as a guide at Phinda Private Game Reserve. Here he met his future wife, and they lived in Jozi and Cape Town while Neil worked in finance at Rand Merchant Bank.

But, his passion for conservation kept tugging, so he completed a part-time Master’s in Environmental Management, also at Stellenbosch. This proved a springboard to get back into the bush. In 2010, he founded and ran the Kafue Lion Project in Zambia’s enormous Kafue National Park. His three years in the field culminated in a PhD in Zoology from the University of Cape Town. His work produced the first reliable estimates of this important lion population, and led to ongoing interventions in the park to protect its precious wildlife.

After completing his PhD, Neil spent 5 years at ecotourism company Singita as their first Conservation Manager, where he was instrumental in developing the company’s conservation strategy. This was followed by a 3 year stint as Group Impact Manager of Wilderness Safaris.


He is a member of the African Lion Working Group, the Mozambique Carnivore Working Group, the KAZA Elephant Working Group, the KAZA Carnivore Working Group and the Trans-Frontier Conservation Specialist Group.

What makes you YOU in one sentence?
I’m a lover of our planet’s wild places and wild animals, and deeply committed to ensuring that they survive to brighten the world for my children and theirs.

How will your outlook on life improve the world?
I approach everything with a long term view to making the world a better and fairer place. I am a firm believer that exposing people to the wonders of wilderness and wildlife, and their inherent fragility in our world, is the most powerful way to turn them into advocates for conservation.

Click to see website here.

Thank you and the greatest respect to your way of life,
The Sealand Crew.

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