Born and brought up in Zambia, Jim is very much an African at heart, despite his fondness for his adopted country, Scotland.
His first proper job was in a safari camp in the Okavango, Botswana, where he first discovered his love for travelling by mekoro (dug-out) and other local craft. He has continued to explore remote corners and waterways of his native continent, as well as Madagascar and South America – often by canoe, sailing pirogue, dhow, ox-cart or on foot – sometimes simply for fun/out of curiosity and for 2½ years professionally. He first formally trained in expedition medicine in 1995, prior to research expeditions for Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Edinburgh, where he had previously studied for an MSc in the Biodiversity & Taxonomy of Plants. He has since led and/or acted as team doctor to a number of expeditions with a variety of purposes, including ethnobotanical & zoological research, adventure, conservation artwork and pioneering local community-led safari initiatives.
After qualifying in Medicine, Jim chose to pursue a broad and practical ‘portfolio' training to enable him to return to Africa to work usefully: first as a rural hospital doctor/anaesthetist/surgeon and later as a public health doctor with a special interest in TB. He has worked in Malawi, South Africa, Madagascar and Northern Mozambique and has had plenty of first-hand experience of assessing, living with and managing tropical disease risks in resource poor situations or ‘where there is no doctor’. He has trained and worked part-time in three specialist travel clinics in Scotland since 1999 (with a six-year interlude in Public Health & Health Protection). Together with a nurse practitioner colleague, he set up a successful independent specialist pre- and post-travel clinic in Edinburgh since 2009, which is now his main occupation. In 2018 he was promoted to Consultant in Travel & Expedition Medicine.
Jim has taught, assessed and mentored students for many years at the Faculty, and has recently been appointed as Faculty Regional Adviser for Scotland. He is an active member of ISTM and been a member of leadership councils for both the Responsible Travel Group and the Expedition & Wilderness SIGs. He is also on the BGTHA board.
Jim’s current passion and research interest is rabies elimination: both for local people who still have to live with the ever-present risk and very real fear of this disease, and for painted wolves (Lycaon pictus, or African wild dog), whose packs are particularly vulnerable to introduced infection from domestic dogs. Using innovative (and hopefully more effective) vaccination techniques and a ‘One Health’ approach working closely with local vets and conservation biologists ‘back home', he hopes to play a small part in trying to protect this beautiful, critically endangered animal from extinction.