Dr du Plessis is the Chief Executive of WWF South Africa, and serves on the Shareholder Executive Team of the international WWF Global Climate and Energy Initiative. Among memberships of several trusts and advisory boards, he is the Chair of the Research Board of the Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Studies. Before joining WWF, he was the director of one of only six national Centres of Excellence in South Africa, at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute at the University of Cape Town.
Before that he held research and management positions at the former Natal Parks Board and the University of California at Berkeley, respectively. He has presented keynote lectures and scientific presentations at a wide range of local and international conferences, and authored or co-authored over 50 scientific publications in the fields of conservation biology and environmental science. He was awarded the South African National Research Foundation’s President’s Award in 1996. In 2000, he was listed among the Mail & Guardian’s “Most Promising 100 Young South Africans in the New Millennium”. He has degrees in Agriculture and Zoology from Stellenbosch and Pretoria universities, an Executive MBA from the Graduate School of Business (Cape Town), and a PhD in Zoology from the University of Cape Town.