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Ian Parker Collection Relating to East African Wildlife Conservation

Identifier: MS Group 324

Scope and Content

The Parker Collection documents wildlife management and conservation in East Africa, particularly in Kenya, over more than fifty years. Although materials in the collection date from 1896 to 2012, the bulk of the collection spans 1956-2004 and covers Parker's service as a Game Warden in Kenya, his activities with Wildlife Services Ltd., work as an independent consultant, and his research and activities with the ivory trade.

The collection is arranged in multiple file series or groups:

  1. 1979 World Ivory Trade Study
  2. Second World Ivory Trade Study (1989) for CITES
  3. Eburiana
  4. Miscellaneous Ivory Files
  5. Elephant Data
  6. Rodney Elliott Files
  7. Kenya
  8. Uganda
  9. Shashe Silk
  10. Correspondence and Subject Files
  11. Photographs and Audiovisual
  12. Maps and Oversize Materials
  13. Reprints
  14. Miscellaneous Publications

Some subjects such as ivory, elephants, poaching, and Kenya, are pervasive throughout the entire collection. Whenever files were clearly labeled and/or grouped in these categories by Parker, the files were maintained in this arrangement. Many files throughout the collection include handwritten or typewritten notes by Parker explaining the context for the materials and the historical importance of specific documents.

The first five file groups pertain to the ivory trade and elephants. These materials include research data, correspondence, government publications and legislation, and numerous reports created by Parker. In addition to reports completed for the 1979 World Ivory Trade Study and the Second World Ivory Trade Study, there is the "Black Report" that he produced for Botswana in 1971, the "White Report" produced in 1973, and the Ebur (Latin for ivory) Report from 1974-1975. The files identified by Parker as "Eburiana" include materials Parker gathered on the ivory and horn trade, poaching, corruption, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and Operation Lock, a covert operation conducted in South Africa by a private military firm, KAS Enterprises. The culmination of these investigations was a presentation before the 1996 Commission of Inquiry into the Alleged Smuggling of and Illegal Trade in Ivory and Rhinoceros in South Africa (one of President Mandela's government's Truth Commissions). The Elephant Data files consist of biological field data compiled during culling operations intended to mitigate elephant overpopulation from 1965-1969 at environmentally stressed sites in several East African countries.

The Rodney Elliott files were bequeathed to Parker after Elliott's death in 2005. Elliott was a retired British military officer who served both as a game warden and a national park warden in Kenya (the national parks and the Game Department were separate organizations before 1976), as manager of the private Solio Wildlife Sanctuary, and briefly as a Superintendent in the Kenya Police responsible for investigating corruption of the game wardens and government agencies. The files span much of his career, with the bulk covering his investigations of corruption, his management of the Solio Sanctuary, and his fervent anti-poaching activities. The files also include correspondence with wildlife conservationists George and Joy Adamson. George was a Senior Game Warden in northern Kenya and Joy authored the best selling book Born Free.

The Kenya and Uganda files include reports, laws, regulations and correspondence pertaining to those countries. Several files document the work of Parker and Wildlife Services Ltd. completed in and for those countries. Many of the Kenya files are related to the Kenya Wildlife Service, wildlife conservation and management legislation, poaching, game wardens, the Kenya Game Department, and the Galana Game Management Scheme (1960-1964). Similarly, the Shashe Silk files cover Parker's involvement in an attempt to develop a silk industry in Botswana. The majority of these files pertain to research into the production of Gonometa silk as a major export product.

The Correspondence and Subject Files represent those materials that were not grouped into any of the preceding file series. It should be noted, however, that there is a great deal of overlap between these files and materials found in other groups within the collection. For example, there are Subject Files that pertain to Kenya and the ivory trade. Correspondents include Peter Jenkins, Richard H.V. Bell, R.M. Laws, Graeme Caughley, A.D. Graham, and various organizations and firms including Botswana Game Industries (BGI) and Tombooth Ltd. Many of the subject files relate to consultancy work completed by Parker and Wildlife Services Ltd., including reports, surveys, and research data. In addition to elephants and rhinos, these files include materials pertaining to game birds, gazelles, tropical fish, frogs, crocodiles, hippopotamuses, and other wildlife. Several of the files pertain to countries such as The Gambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Somalia, Tanzania, etc., as well as to non-African locales including the United States, Europe, and Hong Kong.

The remaining file groups are primarily based on physical format: Photographs and Audiovisual, Maps and Oversize Materials, Reprints, and Miscellaneous Publications. Many of the photos, films, maps, and oversize materials had been stored with papers throughout the collection, but have been separated from their original files or boxes in order to preserve them. Of particular interest among these files are aerial photos used to count wildlife (e.g., elephant and rhino herds), films pertaining to a BBC production on elephants, and a large-scale map documenting hippos along the Nile for 50 miles above Murchison Falls.


  • Creation: 1896-2012
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1956-2004


Language of Materials



The collection is open for research.

Usage Restrictions

None of the motion picture films created under contract with African governments (or the digitized video files or DVDs derived from them) are to be removed from the research room or reproduced. These video files may be viewed by researchers on site in the George A. Smathers Libraries.

Biographical/Historical Note

Ian S.C. (Stuart Carlisle) Parker was born February 11, 1936 in Malawi (then Nyasaland). His mother returned with him to Kenya to be close to her family after Ian's father joined the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. Parker attended Cheltenham College (England), returning to Kenya in 1953 without going on to university. He worked as a laborer on a dairy farm until he was old enough to enlist with the Kenya Regiment during the Mau Mau Uprising. Once trained, he was seconded from the Regiment to the colonial administration. In this role, along with his peers from the Regiment, young men not yet 20 years old were given administrative responsibility for important aspects of the lives of as many as 10,000 people. As a result of this experience Parker never regretted opting for it instead of going to university.

In 1956 Parker became a Game Warden with the Kenya Game Department. Early in his career, Parker explains, he "broke ranks and advocated allowing the Watta people to hunt rather than treating them as poachers." This approach led to the creation of the Galana Game Management Scheme in 1960, arguably the earliest and largest community conservation project in Africa. After eight years as Game Warden, Parker resigned in 1964 and started Wildlife Services, Ltd. with his wife Christine Mowat Parker and four friends as partners. Theirs was the first wildlife research and management consultancy in East Africa. Parker had frequent contact with East African government conservation departments through his role in the company. While working in many areas relating to wildlife, Wildlife Services became best known internationally for undertaking a series of large scale elephant culling operations from 1965 to 1969 in Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. This was the first time such work was attempted. The data collected were used to produce numerous scientific publications.

Managing the sale of ivory produced by these culling projects gave Parker contacts and experience in the ivory trade, which he continued to investigate through commissions on behalf of those with national, commercial, and conservation interests. He researched the history, scope, scale, and value of the trade, its varying market practices across the continent and internationally, as well as the influence of political corruption and illegal trade on conservation practices and prospects. Parker became a recognized authority on the provenance of ivory stocks through forensic observation, and an expert on ivory distribution and markets.

After closing Wildlife Services, Ltd. in 1976, Parker continued his work as an independent consultant, ivory broker to governments and businesses, and advocate of wildlife product monetization practices that support conservation and economically benefit African communities. He represented several ivory trader associations' proposals regarding the international trade to the third and fourth Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) biennial conferences. With over 50 years working in wildlife conservation, management, and development, Ian Parker retired in 2011, moving from Nairobi to Australia with his wife.


35.75 Linear feet (62 boxes)


The Ian Parker Collection documents wildlife management and conservation in East Africa, particularly in Kenya, over more than fifty years. The bulk of the collection spans 1956-2004 and covers Parker's service as a Game Warden in Kenya, his activities with Wildlife Services Ltd., work as an independent consultant, and his research and activities relating to the ivory trade, poaching, elephants and other wildlife.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building. Please note that some materials in this collection are housed in the Auxiliary Library Facility off campus and will require advance notice for timely retrieval. Please contact the Special and Area Studies Collections department prior to your visit. These include the Elephant Data sheets. These have also been digitized and are available online through UFDC here

Acquisition Information

Ian Parker donated this collection to the University of Florida Smathers Libraries in 2010.

Alternate Form of Material

Digital reproductions of selected items in the Parker collection are available online via the University of Florida Digital Collections (UFDC). Materials relating to the ivory trade, such as Parker's 1979 report, The Ivory Trade, are available online at (also includes Ebur and rhino files, Rodney Elliott materials, etc.). Digital reproductions of elephant data sheets are available online at A sketch map of the Victoria Nile between Murchison Falls and Chobe showing hippopotamus distribution and numbers is available at Please read the Permissions for Use statement for information on copyright, fair use, and use of UFDC digital objects.

Related Material

The University of Florida Smathers Libraries also holds the following related collections which are processed and available to researchers: the Records of the East African Professional Hunters Association, the Graham and Brian Child Collection, and the Larry Harris Collection (in process).

A Guide to the Ian Parker Collection Relating to East African Wildlife Conservation MS Group 324
Finding aid created by Dan Reboussin, Barbara Gundersen, and John Nemmers
July 2014
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America