Richard Vigne of #OlPejeta fame joins the African Leadership University’s School of Wildlife Conservation as Executive Director ?

(Posted 20th January 2022)

The African Leadership University’s School of Wildlife Conservation and its Advisory Council is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Richard Anthony Vigne as the first-ever Executive Director of the School, effective January 24th, 2022. The founding goal of the African Leadership University’s (ALU) School of Wildlife Conservation (SOWC) is to promote conservation as an African growth sector by developing, equipping and informing entrepreneurial conservation leaders. By educating the leaders of tomorrow who will create future wildlife economies, the SOWC aims to be a catalyst in conserving Africa’s wild places.
Image: Richard Vigne

Mr Vigne is an accomplished conservationist with more than 20 years of leadership experience in Africa. He joins SOWC from the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, which he founded and then served as the CEO for 25 years. Under his leadership, Ol Pejeta Conservancy became East Africa’s largest sanctuary for black rhino and home to the last two remaining northern white rhino in the world, as well as to breeding programmes for endangered species. With a reputation for innovation, the Conservancy pioneered the integration of a profitable livestock operation with conservation and tourism and ran a community development programme that invests up to USD 1.5m per annum. The conservancy is financially self-sustaining with an annual turnover of approximately USD 12million, 900+ staff and 115,000 annual visitors (pre-Covid) to five safari camps. Prior to founding Ol Pejeta, Richard worked for six years as an operations manager for a safari company throughout Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Richard says, “Africa stands at the cusp of great opportunity from a conservation perspective, despite the naysayers. The continent is already a world leader in innovative paradigm-changing conservation practice and thinking, and in some countries conservation already offers enormous economic opportunities. Using its approach centred around “excellence at scale”, the School of Wildlife Conservation at the African Leadership University offers an exciting opportunity to inculcate large numbers of bright motivated young conservationists across Africa with the latest cutting-edge thinking within and around the conservation space. This is what will be needed to create the continental impact that will be required if conservation, in all of its myriad forms, is to truly become the value proposition that it theoretically offers. I can think of no better opportunity to create a bright future for Africa’s magnificent wilderness areas and her youth in my new role as the Executive Director of the School of Wildlife Conservation, and I am enormously excited by the challenges that lie ahead“.
Image: Undergraduate students on campus in Kigali

Since its creation in 2016, 302 students and alumni from 32 countries across the continent have been part of SOWC’s programmes. The school offers professional programmes at all levels of the career journey. The MBA for Conservation Leaders is designed to develop the management, leadership and advocacy skills of senior practitioners for African conservation. The Conservation Leadership Pathways is a 6 month part-time Xcelerator leadership programme that turns conservation managers into high-impact leaders and empowers them to fast track their growth. Aspiring young African conservation leaders can embark on undergraduate programmes created with top conservation organisations on the continent. 
Image: ALU’s Kigali campus, home to SOWC

Richard Vigne joins SOWC at a time when the school is striving to deliver excellence at scale and promote conservation as an economic development sector. SOWC’s vision to be the catalyst for a more inclusive conservation sector that is equitably led by Africans translates into teaching, research, entrepreneurship innovation and policy engagement that focuses on leveraging the best within the sector in Africa.  April 2022 will see the graduation of more than 45 conservation-focused undergraduates and over a dozen CMBA students will graduate in July. As well as welcoming a new cohort of students taking the next step on their conservation journey, 2022 will see the continual growth of the Research Department (which launched in 2020) and the launch of the Wildlife Economy Investment Index, a groundbreaking piece of research which will help inform and empower governments to make decisions that unlock the potential of the wildlife economy and encourage investment in it. A further ten wildlife economy case studies will be published, highlighting the importance of wildlife to local, national and regional economies.Fred Swaniker, Founder of the African Leadership Group, comments, “Richard has dedicated his entire professional life to successfully preserving and developing nature in Africa. His expertise and reputation for innovation in the field is just what we need to further drive the business of conservation and develop Africa’s next generation of conservation leaders at SOWC.” 
About the School of Wildlife Conservation:The School of Wildlife Conservation is the conservation initiative of the African Leadership Group. It was established in 2016 to promote conservation as an African growth sector by developing the next generation of entrepreneurial conservation leaders at all levels through undergraduate, middle management, and executive programmes. In combining innovative research and leadership talent cultivation, SOWC encourages entrepreneurship within the wildlife economy and provides a platform for young entrepreneurs to incubate their innovative conservation business ideas.At a macro level, SOWC seeks to influence the sector’s decision-makers to adopt sustainable business models and promote an entrepreneurial business-minded approach in African conservation.To find out more, visit or join the conservation conversation @aluconservation

ATCNews wishes Richard the very best for the challenges ahead and Ol Pejeta’s loss will no doubt be the gain of the African Leadership University’s School of Wildlife Conservation.