Last night Prince William celebrated the extraordinary lives of five men and women dedicated to the survival of Africa’s endangered wildlife. As Royal Patron of Tusk, the Prince, who was joined this year by Sir David Attenborough, was proud to honour their work at the fourth annual Tusk Conservation Awards, announcing the winners of three of the conservation world’s most prestigious accolades. And with the addition of a surprise award the Prince turned the tables on Sir David, offering the legendary natural history broadcaster heartfelt thanks for his ‘immense contribution’ to conservation and for inspiring generations around the globe to care for the natural world.
The Duke said, “As ever, tonight I have been humbled by the sheer dedication and commitment that all of our 2016 nominees have shown, in preserving – against the odds - our precious natural world. Their work is dangerous but vitally important – and we are immensely grateful for it.”
“Let’s remember,” he added “that the illegal wildlife trade is the fourth biggest illegal trade in the world after drugs, weapons and human slavery.”
The stories and video profiles of this year's finalists are all available on the Tusk Conservation Awards website.
Sir David declared Angola’s Manuel Sacaia the winner of the Tusk Wildlife Ranger Award, in recognition of his fearless dedication to protecting the critically endangered giant sable antelope from extinction.
The Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa, sponsored by Land Rover, also presented by Sir David Attenborough, went to Cathy Dreyer from South Africa, for her commitment to, and remarkable success in protecting black rhino, work vital to the survival of this iconic species.
The Prince William Award for Conservation in Africa, sponsored by Investec Asset Management, was presented by The Duke to John Kahekwa from the Democratic Republic of Congo for a life lived in pursuit of a future for the Grauer’s gorilla within the Congo’s war zones.
Charlie Mayhew, Tusk CEO, said “Whilst the illegal wildlife trade continues to flourish, we must not lose sight of the remarkable achievements of these five extraordinary men and women, whose lives are threatened daily on Africa’s conservation front line”.
Tusk is extremely grateful to presenter and Tusk patron Kate Silverton for once again hosting the ceremony, which was also attended by many of the charity’s high profile supporters including Ronnie Wood, Deborah Meaden, Katherine Jenkins and Bear Grylls. Among the guests were the Chinese, Rwandan and Angolan Ambassadors.
Hendrik du Toit, CEO of Investec Asset Management, added, “We live in unprecedented times. Over the last 40 years the world’s wildlife population has decreased by more than half and some of the planet’s most iconic species, many of which count the continent of Africa as their home, are on the brink of extinction. Now is the time to act if we are to reverse this. The awards are not only a celebration of the achievements of the nominees; they are also about inspiring all of us for the ongoing battle to preserve our natural heritage for the generations to come.”
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