Director of Conservation Optimism at ICCS

Jon Taylor


I have been fascinated by wildlife and the natural world since I was a young child, and a conservationist since I worked out what the word ‘endangered’ means. I like data analysis and maps, so I spent many years working with Geographic Information Systems on long-term projects in Africa and Asia, at the interface of wildlife conservation, environmental management and sustainable development. Later I became a project manager and monitored and evaluated conservation and environmental projects across the European Union. In more recent years I’ve worked on climate change at WWF, tigers and elephants at the Zoological Society of London, coral reefs and cetaceans in various places, and most recently before joining ICCS in 2024 I was Managing Director at Save the Rhino International. The fact that I can now claim 30 years of experience in conservation and sustainable development is frightening. I still wonder at our beautiful world every day, but these days I also enjoy helping to support and guide the next generation of conservationists.

Research Interests

I can’t ignore all the ecological connections, so I end up thinking about the big picture and the whole planetary ecosystem. I’m interested in understanding the big global challenges and the human response to them. I’m genuinely optimistic that people will eventually learn to live sustainably; I don’t think we have to change the world. I think the job of my generation, and probably the next couple of generations, is to constrain and limit the damage while the rest of the human race catches up.

Current Research

I’m a practicing conservationist and I try to provide some leadership where I can. I hope to inspire both the Conservation Optimism team and the wider conservation community

Brief CV

University of Oxford – Conservation Optimism Director: 2024 – present

Save the Rhino International – Managing Director: 2019-2024

Consultant / Wildlife Surveyor / Presenter: 2014-2019

Zoological Society of London – E&SE Asia Programme Manager: 2013-2014

WWF-UK – Climate Change Programme Manager: 2008-2013

HTSPE Limited – EU LIFE Programme Monitoring Team: 2002-2008

HTSPE Limited – Misitu Yetu Forest Project (Tanzania): 2002-2004

HTSPE Limited – Usangu Wetlands (SMUWC) Project (Tanzania): 2001-2002

HTSPE Limited – Coral Reef COREMAP Programme (Indonesia): 2000-2001

HTSPE Limited – A GIS for Sustainable Development (Sri Lanka): 1998-2000

HTSPE Limited – Lesotho Highlands Water Project (Southern Africa): 1995-1998

HTSPE Limited – Project Manager / GIS Specialist (Italy/UK): 1992-1995

Henry Beaufort School, Winchester: Science/IT Teacher: 1989-1991

Zoological Society of London: Lion / Wolf Keeper:  1986