Derek joined Rainbow Tours in June 2000. He was born in South Africa. A keen naturalist, he has had a strong interest in wildlife (birds in particular) for as long as he can remember. He has a degree in Psychology and Sociology and worked at Europ Assistance International, where he first became exposed to the intricacies of problem solving for clients involved in tricky situations, usually in far flung corners of the globe.
As a result of his long-standing fascination with Madagascar, Derek began his career in travel in 1991. While working in South Africa, he undertook many exploratory trips to Madagascar, as well as to the Mascarene islands, Mozambique, Ethiopia and Eritrea. He arranged numerous group tours, designed tailor-made itineraries and co-authored three guidebooks: first was the Globetrotter Guide to Madagascar, for New Holland/Struik now in its 4th edition. Written with Antananarivo-based tourism expert Nivo Ravelojaona it remains the only Madagascar guidebook in English to have been co-authored with a Malagasy.
In 1992, Derek met UK publisher and travel writer Hilary Bradt. They co-authored the first three editions of 'Madagascar Wildlife: A Visitors Guide', which won The Sunday Times (UK) 'Small Publisher of the Year Award'. He co-wrote the second edition of 'Mauritius, Rodrigues & Reunion: the Bradt Travel Guide'. Derek has written numerous articles for newspapers and magazines, including BBC Wildlife and World Birdwatch. One detailing the plight of the Batwa people in south-west Uganda, was published in Africa Geographic. Using articles such as that on the Batwa and a cover feature for World Birdwatch, Derek involved Rainbow Tours in fund-raising initiatives for NGOs such as Forest Peoples’ Programme and BirdLife International. From March 2009 to November 2010 he was part of a voluntary team of individuals including conservationists and biologists from NGOs such as Missouri Botanical Gardens, who were involved in a campaign against illegal logging within protected areas of Madagascar. During that campaign he and his co-workers published a number of scientific papers and a poster including Geo-Eye satellite imagery tracking the movements of illegal logging syndicates. Derek’s latest contributions to books include the Madagascar chapter in the stunning coffee-table book ‘Evocative Africa’, (2013) which took 'the Godfather of wildlife photography', Gerald Cubitt almost a decade to complete. He also contributed to the 'Global Guide to Animal Protection' (2014), an extensive collection of essays on animal welfare and protection around the world. This remarkable body of work is the result of 13 years of work by its editor Professor Andrew Linzey. In its foreward, Archbishop Desmond Tutu released a statement on animal welfare.
On joining Rainbow Tours, Derek comments: 'I wanted to be part of a dynamic team which adheres to a strong ethic as far as responsible tourism is concerned'. 'That was a vital consideration for me, and it is very gratifying to know that through your work you are putting something back into local communities and conservation initiatives', he adds. During his time with the company, he has travelled to Ethiopia, Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Uganda, Rwanda, Rodrigues, Réunion, Mauritius, the Seychelles, as well as (of course) Madagascar.
'While Madagascar will always be my favourite destination, I have had amazing experiences in other African countries', he says. Top of the list among these include attending a Hamar bull-jumping ceremony in Ethiopia, Gorilla tracking in both Rwanda and Uganda, and white-water rafting in Uganda. 'It is experiences like these that you cherish forever. They are a continual source of inspiration at the workplace, and I enjoy facilitating similar experiences for our clients who have a taste for travel to off-beat and unusual countries'.
Some articles & books
Madagascar Wildlife: A Visitors Guide (3rd edition 2008)
Winner of The Sunday Times 'Small Publisher of the Year Award' (First edition)
Forest Recovery Programs in Madagascar
Derek Schuurman and Kara Moses, Mongabay.com June 2009.
A people betrayed
Africa Geographic Volume Vol.11, No.10 Date November 2003
Amphibians in the Mist: Madagascar’s endemic frogs increasingly under threat
Derek Schuurman and Dr Franco Andreone, Wildlife Extra, 15 December 2010
Globettotter Travel Guide to Madagascar
Derek Schuurman & Nivo Ravelojaona, 4th edition 2014)
The Madagascar Rosewood Massacre
Derek Schuurman & Porter P Lowry II (Madagascar Conservation & Development Journal)
The Inconvenient Solution to the Rhino Poaching Crisis - an interview with Lorinda Hern/Rhino Rescue Project
The inconvenient solution to the rhino poaching crisis 28 October 2014
Derek has also conducted interviews with, or written about the work of various friends for the Rainbow Tours blog, notably prolific guidebook author Philip Briggs, conservationist and CEO of Mongabay.org Rhett Butler; musician/producer/Madagascar expert Paddy Bush and author Daniel Austin.