Last night the fifth annual Tusk Conservation Awards were presented for the first time in Africa at a gala ceremony in Cape Town, and Tusk was extremely honoured that three of the country’s most eminent public figures – Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, former First Lady, Mrs Graça Machel, and former President F W de Klerk – presented the awards on behalf of Tusk’s Royal Patron, HRH The Duke of Cambridge.
The Tusk Conservation Awards, in partnership with Investec Asset Management, celebrate the extraordinary work of dedicated conservationists from across Africa, whose work and lives might otherwise go unnoticed outside their fields.
The Prince William Award for Conservation in Africa was presented to Rian Labuschagne by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who said that "We are linked to one another, and here we realise just how much we’re linked with all of nature… We wish to congratulate you [the finalists] most warmly for making it clear that Africa can be beautiful". This prestigious award sponsored by Investec Asset Management, goes to a man who has dedicated his life to the preservation of some of the world’s most endangered species and important wildlife reserves. Tusk CEO, Charlie Mayhew said, “Thanks to Rian, Chad has witnessed one of conservations’ great success stories unfold with the revival of Zakouma National park and its decimated elephant population.”
The Land Rover sponsored Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa was presented to Brighton Kumchedwa by Nelson Mandela’s widow and former first lady, Mrs Graça Machel. The award recognizes his ground-breaking work in Malawi, one of southern Africa’s major illegal wildlife trade routes.
Mrs Machel also congratulated the other two finalists on their nominations: Nachamada Geoffrey for his inspirational work leading a team in Yankari Game Reserve, home to Nigeria’s only population of elephants, and Serah Munguti for her work in Kenya’s wildlife-rich Tana River Delta, where communities were seriously threatened by land grabs for large agricultural development.
The Tusk Wildlife Ranger Award, introduced in 2015, and particularly close to Prince William’s heart, this year jointly honours the bravery and dedication of two men leading teams risking their lives day and night, on poaching’s front line. Former South African President, FW de Klerk presented the award to Solomon Chidunuka, based in Zambia’s Northern Province and to Lucky Ndlovu from Kruger National Park, South Africa (pictured above).
In closing the ceremony, the former South African President FW de Klerk said:
“It was humbling for all of us to learn about the extraordinary committment, the bravery and the achievements shown by all tonight's finalists. Africa, indeed the world, owes them a huge debt of gratitude.”
"What we have in Africa is so special. The challenge we face is formidable. We have to ensure that communities living alongside wildlife areas and reserves, as well as the wider population, can derive the very real, tangible benefits that can flow from preserving these increasingly threatened tracts of land and the species that share our planet. We have to make conservation relevant to people and to demonstrate its true value to humanity.
“Let us tonight therefore, renew our commitment to accept this challenge. Let all of us do all that we can to support Tusk and the work of all the conservationists represented tonight in this marquee. Let us take hands and say: ‘what we have in Africa is precious. We will preserve it’
Hendrik du Toit, CEO of Investec Asset Management, the headline partner of the Tusk Awards, added “We congratulate each and every nominee for their outstanding achievements. Only by celebrating the successful efforts of these individuals will we inspire many more to join the struggle for the very survival of our planet as we know it.”
Since he could not attend in person, Tusk’s Royal Patron, Prince William addressed the audience via video and outlined the considerable challenges ahead for conservation in Africa. The Prince said “I worry a great deal that our generation is not meeting our moral obligation to leave this planet in better shape than we inherited it. Our children and grandchildren will not thank us if we fail in our duty to reverse the decline in so many species.”
The ceremony was hosted by Derek Watts, presenter of Carte Blanche, South Africa’s longest running investigative journalism programme on TV.
Tusk would like to thank Investec Asset Management for its continued support of the Awards, and co-sponsors Land Rover, ISPS Handa, Avios, The Mantis Group, Moët & Chandon, and Spectrecom for their support.
Find out more about about the finalists and how to nominate someone for next year on the Tusk Conservation Awards website.
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