Meet Stanley Phiri, Banyan Tree Ilha Caldeira’s very own conservation hero!

May 2022, For Banyan Tree Ilha Caldeira’s Conservation Manager, Stanley Phiri, life’s journey has been an adventure that has seen him pursue a passion for Africa’s wilderness.

Born in Lago District in Mozambique’s Niassa Province, Stanley’s family emigrated to Malawi when he was a child. He went to school in the nation’s commercial city of Blantyre, but it was outside the city that his path to becoming a committed conservationist began!

“My father had cattle, so I used to spend weekends in the bush with local herdsmen,” explains Stanley. “We would often come across leopards, hyenas and jackals and although these animals were seen as predators I wanted to learn more about them, sparking my interest about wildlife,” he says.

“After secondary school, I was accepted to study a wildlife management course at Malawi College of Forestry and Wildlife. This is how my conservation journey began.”

At college Stanley studied not only wildlife but coastal biodiversity management, business, leadership, tourism, hospitality and trails/nature guiding. When he graduated in 1998 he decided to register for a black rhino tracking course in the Kruger National Park to assist with the introduction of black rhinos into Malawi. The following year he embarked on a safari guiding course and career as a safari guide.

“In 2004 I went to Mozambique where the next chapter of my career involved training local rangers and guides in one of the private concessions in the Quirimbas National Park in Cabo Delgado Province,” explains Stanley. “A year later I joined the Maluane Project, working as a game warden/manager in a private reserve in the Messalo wildlife Area.”  He also organised and led research expeditions with visiting local and international scientists, helping them collar elephants for study purposes in co-ordination with the African Elephant Specialist Group (AESG).

Stanley got the chance to work in marine conservation in 2009 when he moved to Vamizi Island in Mozambique to lead the conservation team there. “I worked with marine scientists studying turtle reproduction, marine mammals, coral reef management and acted as a community engagement and liaison officer on marine and coral reef protection,” says Stanley.

In 2016 he joined African Parks on a two-year contract as an Environmental Education Officer, managing this globally lauded organisation’s environmental education centre, conducting lectures to visiting education groups, planning and implementing community projects.

Upon returning to Malawi, he joined renowned photographic safari company Robin Pope Safaris and worked as lodge manager in two of their exclusive five-star eco-lodges.

In February 2021 I was able to return to my birthplace, Mozambique, and joined the Banyan Tree Ilha Caldeira project that also includes the conservation of neighbouring Banyan Tree Ilha Nejovo.”

“I love Ilha Caldeira, and it’s exciting to be part of such a wonderful project from the ground upwards,” says Stanley. “When it opens Banyan Tree Ilha Caldeira will be home to a magnificent marine conservation centre with scuba pool and a qualified team to take guests on underwater

adventures at a selection of dive and snorkel sites throughout the archipelago. With pristine reef and unbleached coral system, the waters are rich in marine biodiversity. This entire archipelago is a marine reserve and we are going to be focusing particularly on helping to protect its integrity.”, he shares enthusiastically.

With Stanley’s commitment to the environment, it is no wonder that his responsibilities also include habitat inspection on the island. He also educates the local community about the Banyan Tree philosophies, sharing a deeper understanding of the importance and need for eco-tourism into this region.

When not on the island, Stanley is in Zomba, Malawi, where his wife and three children live. He also cares for his late brother’s two children. A wonderful family-oriented man whose hobbies include birding, reading and singing.