Written by: Natasha Breed
It’s not every day that one receives a letter from a future king of England. Last Friday, at a gathering of 300 employees of the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) and Borana Rhino Sanctuary celebrating World Ranger Day, a quietly spoken man wearing the uniform of Lewa’s security team stood alongside his men. Little did he know that he was about to be singled out and presented with a letter from Kensington Palace.
For 25 years, the internationally recognised Tusk Trust has been funding conservation, community and environmental efforts around the world. This year, the trust’s royal patron, HRH the Duke of Cambridge, created the Tusk Wildlife Ranger Award in recognition of the dedication and bravery of rangers working to protect Africa’s increasingly endangered wildlife. And, from a shortlist of eight nominees from African countries that included South Africa, Namibia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, it was Kenyan Edward Ndiritu who was selected.
As head of Lewa’s anti-poaching unit, Ndiritu has capably led his team of wildlife rangers, working alongside two highly trained NRT rapid response teams and reacting to any poaching threats or actual incidents where rhinos or elephants have been killed for their horns or ivory. His efficiency, diligence and leadership were qualities that stood out to the panel of judges at the Tusk Conservation Awards.
In a personal letter to Ndiritu, Prince William wrote:
“May I take the opportunity to personally congratulate you on this richly deserved award and to thank you for the extraordinary contribution you and your team at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy have made towards both the protection of wildlife and increased security for the rural communities of northern Kenya.”
Standing shoulder to shoulder with his men as the letter was read out, Edward Ndiritu’s face reflected a mixture of shy embarrassment, quiet pride and humility as he took in the importance of the prince’s words.
He stepped forward to receive the letter and turned to his men.
“I would like to accept this award on behalf of my whole team. I recognise that it is not just my efforts that have made a difference – we have achieved this success thanks to the entire team’s dedication and hard work. I am thankful for everyone’s support and greatly humbled by this recognition. Thank you.”
Afterwards, while reading his letter – on Kensington Palace stationery, with ‘William’ signed in blue ink at the bottom – Ndiritu looked up and, putting a hand on his heart, said simply: “I can’t believe it…”
Edward Ndiritu will attend the Tusk Conservation Awards ceremony in London in November, when he will be presented with a specially commissioned medal and a grant towards his work.
If you know of a worthy recipient of a Tusk Conservation Award please nominate them via the website: www.tuskawards.com