The heroic actions of those that fight for the conservation of rhino were recently acknowledged, celebrated and rewarded at the 2015 Rhino Conservation Awards, writes Andrew Campbell of the Game Ranger’s Association of Africa.
At the gala-dinner ceremony, held on 27 July at the Montecasino Ballroom, the patron of the Awards, HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco delivered the keynote address, and congratulated the winners for their exemplary efforts.
The winner in the Best Field Ranger category was Patrick Mwita. With intense knowledge of the black rhino population in the Southern Serengeti, Patrick effectively monitors the animals and has also bravely averted armed poaching attempts. The first and second runners up in this category were William Ndobe (local legend in the Kruger National Park [KNP] with 31 years of service) and Jeoffrey Kubayi (KNP field ranger, dog handler, tracker and poaching incursion detector).
Black Mamba APU won the Best Conservation Practitioner category. This Anti-Poaching Unit, which consists of 26 women, conducts anti-poaching operations and focuses on educating the communities surrounding the Balule Nature Reserve in the benefits of conservation and rhino protection. Runners up were Don English (in charge of general conservation as well as rhino protection in the KNP’s region with the highest density of rhino) and Bruce Leslie (Regional Ranger Special Operations, revolutionising tactical rhino anti-poaching operations in the KNP).
Taking the win in the Best Political and Judicial Support category was His Majesty King Mswati III, the King of Swaziland who has played a pivotal role in the protection of wildlife and, especially, rhino. Second place was awarded to both Adv Isabet Erwee (national record for the highest sentence ever handed down in a rhino poaching matter) and Adv Ansie Venter (one of the Specialised Prosecutors, Organised Crime, Mpumalanga). Third place was awarded to Mario Scholtz (responsible for the investigation of rhino poaching related aspects in SANParks).
The winner of the Best Science, Research and Technology category was Dr Jacques Flamand, who heads up the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project. Runners up were Dr Johan Marais (for surgery on poached rhino) and Piet Beytell (Principle Conservation Scientist for MET, Namibia).
Elise Daffue of StopRhinoPoaching.com won the award for Best Awareness, Education or Funding. Second and third place went to Unite Against Poaching (a Unitrans Volkswagen fundraising initiative) and the Peace Parks Foundation.
Incidents of poaching can be reported to the anonymous tip-off lines 0800 205 005, 08600 10111 or Crime-Line on 32211.
SATIB Conservation Trust mourns the death of “Cecil” the research lion.