Shaper: Charlie Mayhew MBE

Charlie Mayhew MBE is the Co-Founder and CEO of the Tusk Trust – the wildlife conservation charity.

After visiting South Africa in 1979 during a gap year, Charlie grew to love Africa and wanted to make a meaningful contribution to conservation. In 1985 after a stint as a marine insurance broker, he set up and led the Young Europe Africa Expedition, a team of 33 travelling overland from London to Cape Town through the Sahara and the Congo and undertaking in Kenya a series of conservation and community projects film for a Channel 4 documentary.

In 1990 he Co-Founded the charity Tusk Trust, and as part of the stimulus for doing so, he co-produced the feature film ‘Lost in Africa’ – a drama that sought to highlight the ivory trade. Since Co-Founding the Tusk Trust, Charlie has overseen the charity become a highly reputable and efficient UK conservation NGO, with HRH The Duke of Cambridge being the charity’s active Royal Patron since 2005.

He also sits on the Board of the Ernest Kleinwort Charitable Trust and Community Conservation Fund Africa, and was awarded an MBE by Her Majesty The Queen in recognition of his services to conservation in Africa in 2005.

Follow Charlie on Twitter @MayhewCharlie.

Interview highlights

I love people, and that is ultimately the basis of my work.

I’m a people person.

When I set up Tusk in 1990, it was set up as a hobby because I had fallen in love with the continent of Africa.

Setting up Tusk was my way of wanting to give something back.

My beliefs and my understanding of conservation has evolved over the last thirty years.

We were constantly trying to build up a strong network of supporters who believed in what we were doing.

Some of those early investments that we made have gone on to become real flagship conservation projects – including the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.

The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is a shining beacon of success.

Lewa allowed me to really understand the need to engage with communities living in the surrounding areas that were rich in biodiversity and wildlife.

To be a conservationist, you’ve got to be an optimist.

As a conservationist, we are competing not only for funds and everything else, but we are competing for mind space.

Every breath of air we take and every mouthful of food that we eat is dependent on the natural world, so we have to look after it. It’s not a luxury, it’s a must have.

We are very fortunate in having a royal patron in the Duke of Cambridge who has been very vocal on this issue in trying to reduce the illegal wildlife trade and eradicate it.

Our biggest single challenge is the loss of habitat.