What draws you to the wildlife of Malawi?
Says Dr. Leslie: “The Majete Reserve is absolutely beautiful; I wish I were there now. It’s on the small side in African terms, although it’s 70,000 acres, and it’s made up of a huge variety of vegetation. It’s also an island of biodiversity surrounded by about 140,000 people in various communities. And outside the electric fence there’s very little left of the original landscape. Putting these animals back into an area where they once occurred should restore an ecosystem balance that they actually once did experience, so from that perspective it’s really vital that we should conduct this research.”
A great moment in the field:
Dr. Leslie, who has appeared on National Geographic television and the BBC, is well known for her work with larger species such as crocodiles and rhinos. It’s often exciting, as she recalls: “I was charged last month by an elephant; that’s quite normal. It was an almost-mature male, and he was missing a bit of his trunk, so I think he’s got a bit of an inferiority complex. I’ve been chased by pretty much everything, from black mambas to crocs!”