back to authors

WILLIE LABUSCHAGNE is a devoted and internationally celebrated wildlife conservationist and holds a master’s degree in wildlife management. For more than five decades he has been actively involved in the conservation of threatened species for which he has received national and international recognition, culminating in numerous awards.

Willie started his career as a zoologist at the Johannesburg Zoological Gardens, and was later promoted to Director. In 1985 he was appointed the Executive Director of the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa.

In 1989 he launched the Pan-African Association of Zoological Gardens, Aquaria and Botanic Gardens, and served for six years as chairman. In 1998 he received the PAAZAB Award in recognition of his contribution to the advancement of zoological gardens in Africa. In 1999 Willie was elected president of the World Association of Zoos and Aquaria and in 2007 received the Heini Hediger Award, recognising his contribution to the progression of zoological gardens worldwide.

In 2006 Willie took early retirement when he was headhunted by the late His Excellency Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the United Arab Emirates, to manage his private Department of Nature Conservation. 

Willie returned to South Africa permanently in 2015 and has since established a consultancy, Willie Labuschagne Wildlife Consultants, which specialises in zoo development. He now spends his time writing about his experiences and is also much in demand as a speaker.

The Soul of a Lion is Willie’s first book.