In Memory of Adam Elisau Pires

Published 12 January 2024

In Memory of Adam Elisau Pires

TRAFFIC and the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) mourn the loss of Adam Elisau Pires, a revered and cherished friend and colleague. 

Adam was born on 14 September 1977 to Faith and “Bino” Pires and was raised in Zimbabwe and South Africa by a loving family with strong Portuguese roots. Adam died tragically in a drowning incident on 22 December 2023 at the age of 47 years in Pretoria. Adam is survived by his mother, Faith Pires and his two children, Aquila and Natalica.

Right from the start, Adam was fascinated by everything related to wildlife and, before joining TRAFFIC, had worked in the conservation training arena for more than 6 years, a substantial amount of that time with the Southern African Wildlife College in the Greater KNP. At that time, Adam was also active in anti-poaching operations in the Kruger National Parks buffer zones, where he developed an intimate understanding of rural community conservation challenges.

Adam joined TRAFFIC on 24 May 2004 as a Training Officer and quickly established himself in South Africa, Lesotho, and occasionally in Viet Nam, as a trainer of wildlife management officers, CITES Scientific and Management Authorities, prosecutors and investigators on complex subjects, including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and environmental law enforcement.  

Adam Pires attending the Hanoi illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in
Viet Nam. ©Endangered Wildlife Trust

Adam left TRAFFIC in August 2009for the EWT, where he continued his lifetime commitment to conservation and training, including the development of cycad and CITES training programmes for wildlife officers. While at the EWT, Adam managed the Skills Development Programme and then the Wildlife in Trade Programme, when this was launched in 2016. During his career at the EWT, Adam developed a series of novel and necessary training courses, seeking to build the capacity of law enforcement officials in the field of wildlife crimes. In recognition of his incredible work in this field, in 2017, Adam personally and on behalf of the EWT’s Wildlife in Trade Programme accepted the Best Rhino Conservation Supporter award as part of the wider Rhino Conservation Awards.

Adam returned to TRAFFIC in February 2018 to work as a Project Manager on several projects, including a large USAID-sponsored project in the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA), where he worked closely with colleagues and conservation officials of the five KAZA states, namely Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. More recently, he applied his extensive expertise to several projects in Madagascar. 

Adam Pires presenting on an abalone criminal syndicate. 

The impact of Adam's efforts and guidance resonates deeply in the lives and professional paths of numerous conservation practitioners, investigators, and prosecutors. The training programs and resources he contributed will serve as enduring sources of positive influence for years to come. Adam wasn't just a dedicated professional; he was a cherished friend and colleague to many. His cheerful demeanour, optimistic outlook, and zest for life endeared him to those around him. Adam's spontaneity and compassionate nature were truly infectious, attracting people with his warmth. Always ready to offer support, he freely shared his bear hugs, making everyone feel special in his presence. His absence leaves a void that will be keenly felt, and he will be dearly missed.

Following the family's wishes, the wake to celebrate Adam’s life was a small family gathering held on 6 January 2024 at a venue at the Cradle of Humankind in the Magaliesberg mountains.

Our thoughts go out to his family, friends and all those suffering his loss. 

Letters of condolence can be directed to
TRAFFIC will compile these on behalf of the family.