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At a ceremony in London on Tuesday, 24th November, His Royal Highness, The Duke of Cambridge celebrated the remarkable work of three of Africa’s pioneering conservationists, honouring their achievements at the third annual Tusk Conservation Awards.


Tusk has been working since 1990 to build a sustainable future for the people and the wildlife of the African continent. These annual awards highlight inspirational conservation work in Africa, ranging from the protection of endangered species and threatened habitat, to the promotion of environmental education and the development of community driven conservation.

The awards ceremony was hosted by BBC broadcaster and journalist, Kate Silverton, who is a patron of Tusk Trust. Three Tusk Awards were presented in 2015.

The Prince William Award for Conservation in Africa is a lifetime achievement award, given to a distinguished individual for their outstanding dedication and exceptional contribution to conservation in Africa. This year the Prince William Award for Conservation in Africa was awarded to Garth Owen-Smith in recognition of his lifetime contribution alongside Dr. Margaret Jacobsohn to the restoration and conservation of wildlife in Namibia. Garth and Margaret could together be described as the architects of community conservation and their combined efforts have positioned Namibia’s approach to conservation as a model to be revered and emulated across Africa. Together they founded Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC), which evolved out of their pioneering partnership with community leaders in the early 1980s to end the poaching and depredation that was taking place in the northwest of Namibia.

The Tusk Conservation Award recognises an up-and-coming conservationist whose work has already demonstrated an exceptional commitment to conservation and has made a significant impact to date. This year, the Tusk Award was presented to Dr. Emmanuel de Merode for his commendable work in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since it was designated a World Heritage Site in 1979, Virunga National Park has faced 25 years of civil war, a refugee crisis and numerous armed militia occupations – over 140 rangers have lost their lives there in the past 15 years. In 2008, when Emmanuel became director, the threats to the park were unparalleled. The National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) had taken control of the park and had evicted all of the park rangers. Despite these monumental obstructions, Emmanuel managed to negotiate with rebel leaders to allow his rangers to return to work, stopping the mass exploitation of the park and ensuring the population of endangered mountain gorillas remains secure.

The Tusk Wildlife Ranger Award, a new award for 2015, recognises the dedication and bravery of rangers working to protect Africa’s increasingly endangered wildlife. Prince William presented Edward Ndiritu with the inaugural Tusk Wildlife Ranger Award, for which he was selected because of his outstanding leadership and commitment in the face of the escalating threat from poachers in northern Kenya. As Head of the Anti-Poaching Unit for the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), Edward is responsible for the planning and implementation of security strategy for a pivotal wildlife conservation area. His security operation for NRT covers thirty-three community managed wildlife conservancies and approximately 9,500 migratory elephant, while Lewa is host to 13% of Kenya’s entire black rhino population.

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