'Savanna-forest mosaic, Ogooue-Maritime, southwestern Gabon; photo. from helicopter by O.S.G. Pauwels

Short Biography

The Belgian biologist Olivier Sylvain Gérard Pauwels was born in Asse, Flemish Brabant province, Belgium, on Sept. 1st, 1971. During his childhood in Groot-Bijgaarden near Brussels he developed a real passion for zoology. Olivier spent much of his secondary school holidays at the Royal Museum for Central Africa (Koninklijk Museum voor Midden-Afrika, Tervuren), where the taxonomist Danny Meirte taught him the methods of morphology and systematic herpetology. This led Olivier to study biological sciences and to get his Master’s Degree from the Université Libre de Bruxelles (Free University of Brussels).

Olivier specialized in vertebrate zoology and in environmental project management in the industry. From 2001 to mid-2011 he was based in Gabon. His various roles as Training Manager for the WWF Gabon, Manager of the Smithsonian Institution’s Gabon Program or as Environmental, Social and Health Impact Assessment Coordinator for Shell Gabon gave him the opportunity to live amazing experiences, such as leading scientific expeditions in remote and unexplored jungles and living with the Pygmies. He contributed to a better knowledge of the rich and endangered biodiversity of Gabon through numerous papers and books.

From mid-2011 to 2015 he was based in Kazakhstan where he managed environmental monitoring programs in a major oil consortium. His duties brought him to numerous on- and offshore remote field sites in extreme weather conditions and he acquired a solid knowledge on Eurasian steppe and Caspian Sea ecology and biodiversity. Olivier promotes the integration of natural resources conservation principles into field operations through appropriate, science-based, environmental and social impacts assessment studies and mitigation measures, taking into account local populations. In 2017 Olivier became Curator of the rich and diverse collections of recent vertebrates at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels.