Patrick O'Connell is a respected administrative leader who guided High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd. as interim director. An avid traveler who lived in the UK while overseeing HS2 rail network planning, Patrick O'Connell has had the opportunity to go on safaris in Zimbabwe and India focused on viewing elephants.
A Voice of America article brought attention to a late 2018 project that involved moving 100 endangered elephants from the Save Valley Conservancy in Zimbabwe. Unfortunately, the refuge is of such limited size that elephants stripped the land bare of the leafy vegetation that they and other animals rely on for habitat and foraging.
The elephants were moved in small groups over the course of a year to the Rifa Safari Conservancy, which borders Zambia. Despite this having been prime grounds for poaching in the past, the Zimbabwe Wildlife Authority has taken major strides to control this illegal practice.
One major deterrent under President Emmerson Mnangagwa is a nine-year mandatory sentence for possessing a rhino or elephant tusk. In addition, there have been extensive programs to train ranchers on conservation best practices. The plan now is to accomplish a similar transfer of rhinos from the Save Valley to Rifa Safari over the next year.
The executive director of the office of the chief of naval personnel in Washington, DC, Patrick O'Connell has been bridging gaps between the business world and the public sector for decades. Over the course of his career, Patrick O'Connell has received multiple commendations and honors, including the U.S. Armed Forces’ Legion of Merit.
Awarded at various levels to chief commanders, commanders, officers, colonels, and legionnaires, the Legion of Merit recognizes exceptionally meritorious conduct that goes above and beyond the satisfactory performance of duties. The U.S. Armed Forces issues this award to active U.S. service members as well as the service personnel of friendly foreign nations.
First proposed in 1937, the Legion of Merit received official confirmation from the United States Congress on July 20, 1942. Colonel Robert Townsend Heard based its distinctive design on the French Legion of Honor. The Legion of Merit consists of a white five-armed cross with ten gold-tipped points and a center that features 13 stars on a field of blue. The cross rests on a green laurel wreath.
Currently chief of naval personnel with the US Navy, Patrick O’Connell is a respected organizational administrator who previously served as UK interim program and strategy director at High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd. At HS2, he oversaw efforts toward establishing a high-speed rail system that will connect Leeds, Manchester, and London. Outside of work, Patrick O’Connell enjoys traveling all over the world and has visited places such as Zimbabwe, where he embarked on an elephant safari.
Zimbabwe maintains a coordinated National Elephant Management Plan that represents a bright spot in the fight against illegal poaching of elephants. With elephants in the country facing potential extinction in the 1980s, officials set a target population of 35,000 elephants, which has been thus far surpassed. In 2014, the population stood at 83,000 elephants.
At the core of Zimbabwe’s unique approach to conservation is the Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources, or CAMPFIRE, which allows those living on communal lands to benefit from wildlife conservation by granting them rights to manage the wildlife there. Nevertheless, serious conservation issues still exist, as witnessed by the recent poisoning of 10 elephants by cyanide in the vicinity of Hwange National Park.
The chief of naval personnel for the United States Navy, Patrick O’Connell has more than three decades of public and private senior executive experience.