Story | 19 Dec, 2022

Mark Stanley Price 1947-2022

Mark Stanley Price, who passed away on 13 December, was a conservation scientist with 40 years of experience working in Africa and West Asia. He trained as a zoologist, conducted fieldwork on antelopes, including mountain bongo, in Kenya, and researched the feeding ecology of hartebeest for a DPhil thesis at the University of Oxford. Later he worked on the domestication and ranching of fringe-eared oryx. From 1979 to 1987 he designed and led the pioneering project to reintroduce Arabian Oryx to Oman, the first time that an Extinct in the Wild large mammal had been restored to a wild, free-living state. 

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In 1988 he was invited to become the founder Chair of the IUCN SSC Reintroduction Specialist Group (RSG), a post he retained until 2000. During that time, he built up a membership of over 300 international experts and his energy and vision enabled RSG to develop and advance the field of species reintroductions. Mark recognised early on that the success of this group would depend on a multi-disciplinary approach. A key achievement was the publication in 1995 of the IUCN Guidelines for Re-introductions. From 2010-2012 he led a joint Task Force of the Reintroduction and Invasive Species Specialist Groups to revise and expand the scope of these guidelines, culminating in the production of the IUCN Guidelines for Reintroductions and other Conservation Translocations in 2013. These are recognised as international standards and have been translated into seven languages. From 2010-2016 he chaired the Sub-Committee for Species Conservation Planning, which promoted science-based species planning within SSC. 

He spent 12 years as Director of African Operations for the African Wildlife Foundation, based in Nairobi, Kenya and then became chief executive of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in Jersey. In 2008 he joined the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at the University of Oxford, as a senior associate. He was Chair of the UK Board of the Kenya Wildlife Trust, and a member of the boards of Marwell Wildlife, the Sahara Conservation Fund, and the World Land Trust. Mark was a natural and effective mentor to many active conservationists working today and always displayed a keen concern for fairness and the welfare of colleagues. 

He became passionately engaged with the science and philosophy of rewilding and used his own garden in Oxfordshire as a test bed for local nature. He had an acute sense that species conservation takes place in landscapes with specific cultures and applied this big-picture view to all his thinking. 

He was awarded the SSC’s Sir Peter Scott Award for Conservation Merit 2015 in recognition of his 40 years of service, the ZSL Award for Conservation Innovation 2018, and he received the inaugural Lifetime Contribution to Wildlife Translocations Award from the IUCN SSC Reintroduction Specialist Group in November 2018. Mark remained active in the IUCN SSC Conservation Translocation Specialist Group (formerly Reintroduction Specialist Group) until recently, always ready to provide advice and guidance.

Beyond all his many professional achievements, Mark will be remembered for his humility, warmth, and good humour, his intellectual curiosity, stimulating conversation, plus generous and unfailing support and advice he gave to all who sought it. He was a good friend and colleague to very many in SSC and around the world and he will be hugely missed.

David Mallon, Co-Chair, IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group
Mike Maunder, Cambridge Conservation Initiative and IUCN SSC Eastern African Plant Red List Authority
Pritpal Soorae, Program Officer, IUCN SSC Conservation Translocation Specialist Group

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User name: Piero Genovesi
on Tue, 20 Dec 2022 by Piero Genovesi (not verified)

Such a passionate, kind, intelligent person. We will all miss you very much. It has been an honor and a pleasure to work with you over the years.

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User name: Jamie Copsey
on Thu, 22 Dec 2022 by Jamie Copsey (not verified)

Mark was a great man. Warm and engaging, interested and interesting. He was an icon of the conservation community and will be sorely missed.

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User name: IUCN SSC Conservation Planning Specialist Group
on Tue, 27 Dec 2022 by IUCN SSC Conse… (not verified)

On behalf of CPSG, I extend our condolences to Mark's family. Every remembrance I have read has mentioned Mark's smile, and rightly so. No one who met him will forget it or the charming and mischievous laugh that often accompanied it. We can only imagine the hole his passing leaves in the family but hope that the scores of people around the world remembering him and missing him with you will help to fill it, if only just a little.

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User name: Matthew Richardson
on Thu, 05 Jan 2023 by Matthew Richardson (not verified)

Saddened and shocked to hear of this. MSP was very kind to me when I worked at DWCT, and was a major influence on my thinking regarding biodiversity conservation.

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User name: Simon Stuart
on Thu, 05 Jan 2023 by Simon Stuart (not verified)

I was privileged to work with Mark since 1987. His leadership on reintroductions led to two sets IUCN Guidelines, which, largely because of him, have become accepted best-practice worldwide. All those who worked with him found it to be stimulating and enjoyable. He always put conservation first, not his own ambitions. His underlying cheerfulness could lift the spirits of a meeting. Above all, Mark was a gentleman. Like many others, I am hugely indebted to him, and shall greatly miss him.

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User name: Claire Mirande
on Tue, 10 Jan 2023 by Claire Mirande (not verified)

Mark was wise, warm, and inspiring mentor to the IUCN SSC Crane Specialist Group through Jim Harris as the Chair and to Claire Mirande as the Program Officer, providing support for a variety of projects including design of the Crane Conservation Strategy. The work of the Reintroduction Specialist Group helped challenge and refine approaches to restoring several species of cranes. Thank you, Mark -- your spirit lives on in our work.

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User name: Jean-Christophe Vié
on Thu, 12 Jan 2023 by Jean-Christophe Vié (not verified)

On top of what he achieved for conservation what a charming and elegant man Mark was. Having worked on Arabian oryx and on the Guidelines for re-introductions, I knew of Mark of course. I met him the first time at my first SSC Steering Committee meeting in 2001. I was intimidated to join such a Group of distinguished conservationists. Mark was one of those persons whose kindness and humility greatly facilitated my integration. I'll be thankfull for ever. The world needs more people like Mark.

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User name: Kajetan Perzanowski
on Fri, 17 Feb 2023 by Kajetan Perzanowski (not verified)

Undoubtedly a great scientist and personality, however the statement "...reintroduce.Arabian Oryx to Oman, the first time that an Extinct in the Wild large mammal had been restored to a wild, free-living state" is not true: the European bison already extinct in the wild, was reintroduced to freedom at Białowieska Forest in 1952

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User name: Fellous Djardini Amina
on Tue, 21 Feb 2023 by Fellous Djardi… (not verified)

I would like to extend my sincere condolences to his own family and colleagues.
I must share that his book on the reintroduction of the Arabian oryx in Oman opened our eyes to a time when the internet did not was used as a reference document to establish our first gazelle breeding center in semi-captivity in Algeria.
I would forever be grateful to him.

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