HRH The Duke of Cambridge attended the 2014 Tusk Conservation Awards at Claridges in London, even lending his name to one of the awards presented that evening. As Royal Patron of Tusk, Prince William presented awards to two leading conservationists for their outstanding work in Africa, and announced his plan to introduce a new award for Rangers. The awards ceremony was hosted by broadcaster Kate Silverton, who is herself a Patron of the charity.
The prestigious Prince William Award for Conservation in Africa, sponsored by Investec Asset Management, was given to Richard Bonham in recognition of his lifetime contribution to wildlife and the Maasai community in Kenya. Richard was recognized by the independent judging panel of experts for his steadfast commitment to the promotion of wildlife conservation in Kenya and mitigation of human wildlife conflict. In addition to the trophy commissioned by Tiffany & Co, Bonham received a grant of £30,000 towards his conservation work. Charlie Mayhew MBE, CEO of Tusk, said, “Richard is one of Africa’s true unsung heroes of conservation. His greatest challenge has been, and remains, to sustain the vast ecosystem of Amboseli and Tsavo in Kenya through a holistic approach – addressing the major threats to the Maasai community and their way of life, the fragile wilderness, and its wildlife. He is the person who changed perceptions in the tourist industry and showed how eco-tourism could meld wildlife conservation with community development in Kenya.”
The Tusk Award for Emerging Leaders in Conservation – an award sponsored by Land Rover – was presented to Herizo Andrianandrasana, from Madagascar. Having witnessed first-hand the huge environmental challenges facing his country, Herizo’s response has been to pioneer the empowerment of local communities to conserve the natural environments they depend on, leading programmes across seven globally important conservation areas, with a combined surface area of 3,500 km2. The Tusk Award and grant of £15,000 recognise his achievements and his leadership of a generation of Africans looking to make a sustainable difference to environmental preservation.
The two other finalists who travelled to London for the awards ceremony were Dr. Amy Dickman of the Ruaha Carnivore Project for her ground-breaking work conserving lions and working with the Barabaig tribe in Tanzania, and Kenyan community conservationist David Kuria, who founded The Kijabe Environment Volunteers, to protect the one of Kenya’s most important forests and water catchment areas. Dickman and Kuria will both receive grants for their projects.
Closing the ceremony, the Duke said, “The work of this year’s finalists serves to illustrate some of our greatest conservation challenges: dramatic loss of lion; poaching of elephant and rhino; deforestation; and the critical need for community involvement.”
He also took the opportunity to announce a new award for 2015, “which will recognise the extraordinary bravery and commitment of Wildlife Rangers. These are the men and women at the frontline of the battle – and it is a battle – to save some of the world’s most iconic species.”
Continuing a theme that he has voiced in the past, he stressed, “These people cannot face the bullets and the threats alone. It is up to governments and intra-national bodies to unite behind them.”
For more information, please visit www.tusk.org.