South Africa’s rangers scooped two of the four awards handed out during a virtual ceremony on Friday, in celebration of World Ranger Day.
Fierce competition saw rangers given recognition for the work they do in risking their lives to help preserve endangered species.
International Ranger Federation President, and awards judge, Chris Galliers said this years’ list of candidates has been the hardest to adjudicate on so far.
Winners were selected for work done over the past year, starting in July 2019.
The best field ranger award went to Uganda Wildlife Authority’s Samuel Loware, whose monitoring and data collection efforts saw significant increases in lion and giraffe populations in the Kidepo Valley National Park.
The first runner-up was Julius Kaputo from Conservation Lower Zambezi, and second was Losas Lanamunyi from Northern Rangelands Trust in Kenya.
The best game ranger award went to South African National Parks’ (SANParks) Don English, for outstanding leadership in the Kruger National Park’s anti rhino poaching efforts saw a decrease in poaching activities year-on-year in the Intensive Protection Zone.
The first runner-up was Conservation South Luangwa in Zambia’s Benson Kanyembo, with second runner-up Albert Smith, from SANParks.
The best conservation practitioner achievement was awarded to SANParks Kruger National Park Airwing, a team of professionals that support rangers, veterinarians and researchers in protecting, conserving and monitoring endangered species in the park, as well as in neighbouring protected areas. Airwing’s pilots and support staff were deemed essential in many counter-poaching successes in the area.
Runners up were SANParks Marula South Rangers, and the Eastern Cape’s DEDEAT Green Scorpions.
Best conservation supporter was awarded to Lynne Taylor from the Tashinga Initiative, which ensures rangers in the Zambezi Valley receive the necessary support to ensure their well-being and operational capabilities.
SANParks’ environmental crime investigators were the first runners-up, with WWF South Africa’s wildlife programme in southern Africa getting the second runner-up.
This year’s Rhino Conservation Awards saw over 250 rangers sponsored with Ranger Protect insurance cover, which ensures support for rangers’ families if they are killed or injured in the field.
Prince Albert II of Monaco is the patron of the Rhino Conservation Awards, and expressed his gratitude to rangers dedicating their lives to defend “the rights of nature faced with humanity’s destructive and irresponsible greed.”
This year’s awards were sponsored by ZEISS and the Chinese New Enterprise Investment, and are endorsed by the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries. They were hosted in collaboration with the Game Rangers’ Association of Africa.
(Compiled by Nica Richards)