Tonight saw the annual Tusk Conservation Awards take place at the UK’s leading repertory cinema, BFI Southbank. Now in its ninth year, the Awards ceremony was attended by the charity’s Royal Patron, The Duke of Cambridge, honouring the extraordinary men and women dedicated to the survival of Africa’s natural heritage. The Duke of Cambridge joined famous faces including host Kate Silverton, Emma, Marchioness of Bath, Sabrina Elba and Tristan Phipps to reveal this year’s winners and celebrate the incredible work that these conservationists have achieved against the odds. Launched with Prince William in 2013, the awards, in partnership with investment manager Ninety One, shine a light on the inspirational work of leading conservationists across Africa.
The vulnerability of African conservation has never been more acute due to the devastating impact of COVID-19, particularly affecting those protecting wildlife and communities on the frontline. With the economy, and wildlife and tourism industries still at significant risk, threats to undo years of conservation work across the continent still continue. Through the recognition of and support to Award recipients, Tusk will raise the profile of African conservation leaders #ForAllTheyDo to advance conservation and their significant impact in the field across Africa.
The Duke of Cambridge addressed this year’s nominees and winners saying: “The work that Tusk does have never been more important.
“The increasing pressure on Africa’s wildlife and wild spaces as a result of human population presents a huge challenge for conservationists, as it does the world over.
“But it is imperative that the natural world is protected not only for its contribution to our economies, jobs and livelihoods, but for the health, well-being and future of humanity.”
Each of the three winners received a trophy specially crafted by Patrick Mavros, and all finalists received grants to continue their vital work.
THE CONSERVATION LEADERS HONOURED IN THIS YEAR’S TUSK CONSERVATION AWARDS ARE:
Prince William Award for Conservation in Africa (sponsored by Ninety One) – a lifetime achievement award, given to a distinguished individual for their outstanding dedication and exceptional contribution to conservation.
- Winner: Simson Uri-Khob (Namibia), CEO of Save the Rhino Trust (SRT).
Simson has worked with the Save the Rhino Trust for 30 years, leading a team of 43 staff and 60 community rhino rangers from 13 conservancies spanning an area of 25,000 km² in Namibia. When Simson joined the SRT in the early 1990s, Namibia’s black rhino population, the only free ranging black rhino population in the world, was just back from the brink of almost complete decimation after a terrible drought and surge of poaching in the 1980s. Namibia’s successful anti-poaching measures have been largely driven by local communities with support from SRT. Today, rhino numbers have increased and conservancies are supported to employ locally-recruited rangers, provide education and health improvements and help for farmers. It is impossible not to feel his passion, commitment and honest, open heart for protecting his rhinos and ensuring his rangers are given the support they need and deserve.
The Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa (sponsored by Land Rover) – this award recognises an individual judged to be an emerging leader in conservation achieving outstanding success in their chosen field.
- Winner Julie Razafimanahaka (Madagascar), Executive Director of Madagasikara Voakajy (MV).
Julie oversees the organisation’s mission to prevent the extinction of Madagascar’s endemic species. During Julie’s sixteen years in the field she has achieved a huge amount, becoming a true conservation leader. Julie’s leadership has enabled MV to establish four protected areas in the Ambatondrazaka district, eastern Madagascar, where colonies of the flying fox roost. Without Julie’s work, much less of the Mangabe rainforest would still be standing today.
- Finalist: Dr Caleb Ofori-Boateng (Ghana), Founder and Director of Herp Conservation Ghana
- Finalist: Rachel Ikemeh (Nigeria), Founder and Director of SW/Niger Delta Forest Project
Tusk Wildlife Ranger Award (sponsored by the Nick Maughan Foundation) – this award gives international recognition to the men and women who work in the field protecting wildlife in Africa on a daily basis.
- Winner: Suleiman Saidu (Nigeria), Senior Game Guard Ranger for Yankari Game Reserve, Bauchi State Government
Suleiman organises and leads anti-poaching patrols, working with local communities and elephant guardians to help mitigate human-elephant conflict, monitoring elephants, prosecution of poachers in court, ranger training and research. He is very experienced with ranger training and has travelled around the country to help train other rangers. Suleiman was key in setting up the elephant guardian work, helping to mitigate the reactions of the communities towards elephant crop raiding. The rate of hunting in the reserve also reduced drastically due to the efforts of Suleiman and his team. Due to his commitment, diligence, hard work and honesty, the rate of elephant poaching has significantly decreased.
These inspiring men and women on the front line of African conservation now face their biggest ever challenge, as the devastating economic impact of Covid-19 threatens years of conservation work across Africa.
Speaking about the three category winners, Charlie Mayhew, CEO of Tusk said: “With COP26 having recently ended in Glasgow, the world has never been more aware of the importance of this planet’s precious biodiversity. We are dependent on the natural world for our own survival. Conservation is not a nice to have. It is a necessity. The recipients of our awards tonight represent the best of work going on across Africa to preserve wildlife, protect landscapes and bring communities together in pursuit of our shared future. Congratulations to all.”
Hendrik du Toit, Founder and CEO of Ninety One, said: “Congratulations to the nominees and winners for their outstanding achievements. Africa is a unique, diverse and vast continent, with beauty like no other. The nominees and winners are true heroes, putting their lives on the line each day to protect and preserve Africa’s wildlife. Their continued commitment to safeguard endangered species and ecosystems is vital in our fight to save the planet.
For all who couldn’t be there on the night, a Tusk Conservation Awards Highlights programme will be broadcast on the Tusk Conservation Awards website, Facebook and YouTube at 6pm (GMT) on 29th November 2021. The programme will allow viewers to experience the highlights from the live awards ceremony, as well as exclusive behind the scenes content. Visit www.tuskawards.com for the latest information.
The Tusk Conservation Awards are made possible thanks to the continued generosity and support of co-sponsors; ISPS Handa, DHL, Maia & Fortemus Films, Mantis Group, Patrick Mavros, EJF Philanthropies, Justerini & Brooks and Shelton Fleming.