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Summary Profile

Award-winning wildlife expert, author and public speaker, Gareth Patterson, is known internationally for his efforts to greater protect the lions and elephants of Africa. His wildlife work has featured widely in the media, books and in documentaries. Patterson told of his life with the famous Adamson lions, which he returned to the wilds after the murder of Born Free legend George Adamson, in the books, Last of the Free and With My Soul Amongst Lions. His books have been published in many editions and languages worldwide. The Secret Elephants, Patterson’s forthcoming new book (to be released in October 2009) tells of his eight-year odyssey to uncover truths about the world’s most southerly elephants, the elusive and highly endangered Knysna elephants of the southern Cape, South Africa. Patterson was the recipient of the Operation Survival Award and of the prestigious Cape Times Environmental Award. He has been an adjudicator for the SAB Environmental Journalist of the Year Awards. A documentary about Patterson’s findings on the remarkable Knysna elephants, as told in The Secret Elephants, has just been completed and will be screened on Animal Planet. He is continuing his research on the elephants, as well as undertaking field work on the existence of another mysterious denizen of the southern Cape, the previously unknown about coastal black leopards. The Gareth Patterson Wildlife Foundation has recently been established, and marks Patterson’s twenty-fifth year of involvement in the greater protection of African wildlife. A highly self-motivated person who lives by the adage ‘Never give up’, Patterson delivers inspiring presentations and talks drawn from his life and experiences.


Presentation One Inspiration from the World’s Most Southerly Elephants – the Knysna Elephants. This compelling presentation by Gareth Patterson tells how we can draw inspiration from the world’s most southerly elephants. Once existing in their thousands, the Knysna elephants were devastated by ivory hunters and the early settlers. By 1920 only twenty were still surviving. In 1999 it was thought only one Knysna elephant remain, an elderly female known by the forest people as ‘The Matriarch’. Conservationist’s then gave up on the elephants of Knysna, terming them ‘a functionally extinct population’. But it was not the end though. And Gareth refused to give up on the Knysna elephants. After covering thousands of kilometres on foot in forests and on the foothills of the southern Cape Mountains, Gareth discovered in secret places that the Knysna elephants had brought themselves, unaided by mankind, back from the brink. Gareth in turn, discovered these elephant’s unique survival strategies. Against enormous odds and adversity, these astonishing elephants were surviving where it was thought there was none. These are elephants of inspiration, and Gareth’s presentation on these elephants leaves his audience imbued with this special inspiration. Presentation Two. Overcoming adversity with Pride Be it in business, the work place, or in life in general, we all face adversity in a myriad of forms. In this presentation, describing one of the most loved stories about African wildlife, the story of the Adamson lions, Gareth tells how he and the young lions he rescued, overcame enormous adversity on the journey towards the lions freedom. After the murder of George Adamson of Born Free fame by ivory poachers in 1989, Gareth rescued George’s last lion orphans, and began the process of returning them back into the wilds. In the presentation Gareth tells how he and the lions faced great challenge’s, such as poachers, illegal hunters and other life threatening situations with leopard, elephant, and other lions. He tells how he and the lions endured though, with later both lioness giving birth and rearing cubs of their own, and how Batian, the male lion established his territory and sired his cubs. Adversity then befell the lions and Gareth. First Batian was lured out of the game reserve by hunters and was shot dead on a bait. To Gareth this was like losing his son. Then Furaha, Batian’s sister and two cubs were shot. Rafiki, the last surviving Adamson lion, and Gareth had to work through and overcome this great loss. And finally they did. This presentation tells of the resilience of the heart, and how we can all be inspired to be lion hearted and overcome the most challenging of obstacles.

Gareth Patterson


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