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Sharon Pincott

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Sharon Pincott
in Hwange, Zimbabwe, 2012
Sharon Schulz

May 1962
Queensland, Australia
Other names'Thandeka Mandlovu' : (Ndebele for Much-loved Mother Elephant), 'The Elephant Guardian'
Known forWorking with the Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe, Hwange 2001–2014
Notable work
  • Elephant Dawn – 2016 book
  • All the President's Elephants (La Gardienne des Éléphants) – 2012 doco
  • Battle for the President's Elephants – 2012 book
  • The Elephants and I – 2009 book

Sharon Pincott is an Australian author and specialist in African elephant behaviour. She has studied the social structure and population dynamics of a single clan of wild elephants extensively, and advocates for ending ivory trade and promoting conservation.


Pincott grew up in the small town of Grantham, Queensland in the Lockyer Valley Region in Australia's east. She originally worked in the field of Information Technology (IT) and progressed to the position of National Director of IT for Ernst & Young Australia based in Sydney.[1]

Zimbabwe-focused work[edit]

Pincott worked alone, on a full-time voluntary basis,[2][3] for 13 years (2001–2014) with the clan of wild, free-roaming, elephants known as the Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe on land bordering the Main Camp entrance to Hwange National Park. She acquired a reputation for being able to "talk to the elephants".[4]

In 2009, eight years after arriving in Zimbabwe, Pincott was appointed South Africa Getaway magazine's 'Elephant Ambassador in Africa' "in recognition of her courageous work with wildlife in Hwange".[5] Pincott subsequently came to the attention of Natural History Unit Africa and became the subject of the documentary titled All the President's Elephants.[6]

This All the President's Elephants documentary[7] was filmed with Pincott in Hwange in 2011.[8][9][10] It is the story of Pincott's life, work and intimate relationship with the Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe, showcasing these Hwange elephants and some of the problems they face. It includes her wire snare removal work with colleagues called in to dart injured elephants using a tranquillizer gun. It also features Pincott's work successfully recommending and encouraging President Robert Mugabe to reaffirm his commitment to this clan of elephants, in an effort to secure their future.

Sharon Pincott in Hwange (2009)

From December 2017 Pincott was active in voicing widespread opposition to scores more young elephants being captured, forcibly taken from their mothers and families inside Hwange National Park and transported to Chinese zoos, appealing to Zimbabwe's new President Emmerson Mnangagwa for an immediate review of policy and ultimately delivering a petition that attracted 287,509 signatures.[11][12][13][14]

Her elephant conservation work has been profiled in National Geographic,[15] BBC Wildlife[16] and Africa Geographic.[citation needed] She has been interviewed by writers for Intrepid Explorer magazine, South Africa[17] The Zimbabwean newspaper,[18] The Sydney Morning Herald,[19] and Travel Africa magazine.[20]


She has published three books: The Elephants and I (Jacana Media, South Africa 2009), Battle for the President's Elephants (Jacana Media, South Africa 2012) and Elephant Dawn (first published by Allen & Unwin, Australia 2016, and then by Jacana Media, South Africa 2016). She is also the author of two earlier elephant works self-published in Zimbabwe, In An Elephant's Rumble (2004, ISBN 079742864X) and A Year Less Ordinary (2006, ISBN 0797431667).

Ivory trade[edit]

For World Wildlife Day 2017 Pincott collaborated with the International Fund for Animal Welfare in an attempt to help bring an end to the Ivory trade.[21] On International Women's Day 2017 Pincott was acknowledged by associates of the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland, Australia, as "blazing a trail for elephants as well as women working in conservation".[22] In late March 2017, almost 3 years after leaving her Hwange elephant work, Pincott was still being acknowledged by the Zimbabwe press for her "profound dedication to the Presidential Elephants", in a country increasingly known for hostility towards conservationists who speak out against wildlife-related corruption.[23] In May 2017, after a male big-game hunter was crushed to death in Hwange when an adult female elephant, felled by gunfire, landed on him, Pincott reasoned in an interview that it was "likely" to be a known Presidential Elephant female that was shot in this hunting party incident, and highlighted the ongoing ineffectuality of Mugabe's Presidential Decree.[24]


In 2017 Pincott revealed that she was suffering from rare, incurable, autoimmune connective tissue disease believed by medical researchers to be both environment- and stress-related.[25]


  1. ^ Threadingham, Tom. "Grantham's wildlife warrior".
  2. ^ Baron, Nick. "Elephant Dawn by Sharon Pincott, (Allen and Unwin) Reviewed by John Asquith".
  3. ^ "New Book: "The Elephant and I" by Sharon Pincott". 4 April 2009.
  4. ^ "Mabhena, Sunday News (7 August 2011) Zimbabwe".
  5. ^ Editor (November 2009), Introducing Getaway's 'Elephant Ambassador in Africa'; A life in love with elephants, Getaway magazine, South Africa p.43
  6. ^ Off the Fence Production Company (2012) All the President's Elephants, 60 minute, South Africa
  7. ^ "Sharon Pincott's All the President's Elephants documentary online". The Zimbabwean. 29 June 2018.
  8. ^ South Africa Triosphere Filmmakers, Documentaries, All the President's Elephants
  9. ^ NHU Africa (April 2012) All the President's Elephants trailer, South Africa
  10. ^ "WATCH: Zimbabwean ellie with fashion envy?".
  11. ^ "Another Disgrace Zimbabwe; another 'Elephant' Disgrace – The Zimbabwean". 29 December 2017.
  12. ^ "Zim Elephant Capture Petition attracts over a Quarter-of-a-Million – The Zimbabwean". 19 January 2018.
  13. ^ "Dear Mr President – Re Zimbabwe Elephant Captures – The Zimbabwean". 7 February 2018.
  14. ^ "Open Letter to Zimbabwe President Mnangagwa on behalf of 287,509 concerned would-be tourists around the globe – The Zimbabwean". 14 May 2018.
  15. ^ Russo, Christina. "The Fate of the Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe—A Conversation With Sharon Pincott – National Geographic Society (blogs)". voices.nationalgeographic.com. Archived from the original on 8 December 2014.
  16. ^ Mark Stratton, Discover Wildlife, Wildlife and photography at its best from BBC Wildlife Magazine (24 May 2011) All the President's Elephants UK
  17. ^ "Magnificent Obsession ‹ The Intrepid Explorer". www.intrepidexplorer.co.za.
  18. ^ Staff Reporter, The Zimbabwean (23 November 2016) Zimbabwe
  19. ^ Mitchell-Whittington, Amy (11 June 2016). "Queensland woman ditches corporate life for 13-year battle to save elephants" – via The Sydney Morning Herald.
  20. ^ Clark, Mike. "Elephant ambassador". www.cfuzim.org.
  21. ^ "Ending ivory trade this World Wildlife Day – IFAW – International Fund for Animal Welfare". www.ifaw.org.
  22. ^ "The Queensland woman who spent 13 years with a single clan of African elephants". 4 March 2017.
  23. ^ "Zimbabwe hostile to conservationists – The Standard". 31 March 2017.
  24. ^ "Did a shot 'Presidential' elephant fall on hunter Theunis Botha in Hwange? – The Zimbabwean". 25 May 2017.
  25. ^ "From rare experiences with wild elephants in Hwange, zimbabwe, Sharon Pincott is now living with "rare diseases" – The Zimbabwean". 28 February 2017.

External links[edit]