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In some categories there were joint winners and joint runners up, so there may be duplicate titles.

 

BEST RHINO CONSERVATION SUPPORTER

 

winner Adam Pires and EWT Wildlife in Trade Programme

Pires and his EWT team have a multi-pronged approach to strengthening both their reactive and proactive capabilities when it comes to poaching. Their continuous dedication to building strategic partnerships in multiple sectors is critical to tackle the rhino poaching and illegal rhino horn trade. Pires and his team provide unique skill sets to enforcement agencies, they increase awareness within the judicial system and they undertake research and monitoring activities which target multiple contact points along the supply chain. To date, specialised skills and knowledge has been supplied to over 1000 officials in the space of 12 months. A proudly South African collaboration between Pires and CSIR resulted in a specialised situational awareness software has been developed which enhances tactical response for over 500 000 hectares of rhino habitat. Pires’ contribution to training and development sees the improvement in resources and awareness of the rhino trade.


1 runner up Richard Mabanga

Dressed in traditional Zulu attire, Mabanga is a recognisable figure in both urban and rural communities throughout KZN. Educating pupils and teachers on the historical and cultural significance of rhinos to the Zulu society, he dispels myths and raises awareness that rhino poaching is a crime. The Rhino Art – Let the Voices be Heard campaign is considered to be the most successful youth art conservation initiative ever undertaken. Having reached over 340 000 youth to date. With Richard as this campaign’s cultural ambassador the campaign has travelled throughout South Africa and neighbouring countries, spreading a strong anti-poaching message. Mabanga also fulfils a significant role for the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Community who work in communities linked to 3 provincial game parks, helping them build strong community relationships.


2 runner up PWT/RPU (Steve and Perry Dell)

This formidable power couple are at the forefront of Rhino Conservation. Steve is the field ecologist and head of the Rhino Protection Unit for the Pilanesberg National Park. He is an icon in the Northwest. Perry heads up the Pilanesberg Wildlife Trust and her main role is raising funds and acquisition of assets for the park. Rhino guardian angels do exist, and this husband and wife team are proof of that. Waging war on rhino poaching for over 30 years, Steve and Perry are responsible for educating, training and interaction in the surrounding communities. PWT offers bursaries and skills development for young people wishing to pursue studies in wildlife conservation. Steve and Perry travel to schools to talk on the importance of wildlife and rhino conservation and to raise funds by selling rhino memorabilia. Steve is fully hands on with the Rhino Poaching Unit on a daily basis and often finds himself in the field, never flinching in the face of danger. Facing massive odds bought on by the lack of funds and meagre budgets available to the NWP, Steve and Perry work tirelessly to ensure the ongoing support of these projects despite the economic difficulties. In the last year, Steve has introduced full special combat and weapons training for the RPU team and has ensured they are equipped accordingly. K9 training units are ongoing and constantly developed. It is thanks to the finance and donations raised by Perry and Steve that new equipment is constantly acquired, technology is updated and supporting structures are continuously improved.

 

POLITICAL AND JUDICIAL SUPPORT

 

winner Vakele Shadrack (Jabu) Qayiso

Responsible for the investigation of organised smuggling syndicates, Jabu as he is known in the industry, manages an extensive informer network across South Africa. His main mission is to successfully neutralise organised rhino poaching groups. Heavily involved in the investigation of smuggling of other endangered species, Jabu’s covert missions to infiltrate poaching groups is also notable on an international scale. With more than 20 years in the business of Environmental Crime Investigation, Qayiso has extensive experience and is directly responsible for securing long term jail sentences for poachers, smugglers and syndicate leaders.


1 runner up The Honorable Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi

Using his leadership positions to raise awareness and promote conservation, Prince Buthlezi has been an advocate for the survival of the rhino for almost 6 decades. His voice is heard throughout the world, reaching Parliament and the rural communities, ensuring that poaching and smuggling remains a hot topic in the political circles. His support of early conservation measures assured the survival of both of South Africa’s Rhino Species. Prince Buthelezi has set up various structures to channel funding to conservation thus driving this policy at local, provincial and national level. His work has been recognised internationally and he has received several awards pertaining to his work. Thanks to the work of Prince Buthelezi (who has now added Ubhejane (The Rhino) to his traditional praises, South Africa is one of the last countries in the world that has rhino in its natural habitat.


2 runner up Frik Rossouw

Senior Investigator, Frik Rossouw is responsible for the processing of poaching related crime scenes – including DNA collection and post mortem. Specifically focused on rhino and elephant related cases, Rossouw has investigated in excess of 2000 cases to date. In a period spanning more than 29 years, Rossouw has only ever lost two cases to a ‘not-guilty’ verdict. In the last year, 595 scenes have been managed and processed under his leadership. His job is always performed with a high degree of professionalism and vigour and the standard of the work has directly resulted in a high conviction rate for smugglers and poachers, ensuring the proper sentences are dealt out. Having to work against the most difficult of odds as crime scenes are often contaminated, vast areas need to be covered and there are often high volumes of crime scenes in a single period, Rossouw beats the odds and ensures a high quality of professionalism and exemplary results at all times.

 

FIELD RANGER

 

winner Tyson Maluleke and K9-Kilalo

Described by his colleagues as unselfish, Maluleke never quits and always leads from the front in anti-poaching operations. Together with his K9 Kilalo, this anti-poaching tracking team is a force to be reckoned with. Outwitting the poacher, their tracking skills led their ranger team straight to a notorious poaching group and they have been directly responsible for 44 of the 66 arrests in the area they operate. This exceptional combination of man and dog has without a doubt played a major role in the fact that rhinos still roam in abundant numbers in the area in which they operate. They have also played an invaluable role in the reduction of poacher success rates in the area.


winner Julius Sibuyi

Sibuyi plays a vital role in the planning, coordination, execution and daily deployments and patrols that ensure maximum area coverage and area integrity. His courage and commitment to his work, despite the daily challenges and continuous onslaught is inspiring. The area he operates in is regarded as one of the most intense poaching areas, with as many as 60 groups of armed poachers entering the section in a month. Sibuyi is constantly coming up with innovative and adaptive techniques to combat poachers and he has been involved in four contacts in one day. Key to his success is building trust with local communities and his passion for his work inspires his team of rangers.


1 runner up Wilson Siwela

Siwela has exceptional leadership skills and builds his relationships on mutual trust and respect. He operates under very dangerous conditions, but his self-discipline and unwavering commitment to his principles inspires everyone that knows him. He is always prepared to go the extra mile in his work and is not driven by compensation, but a passion that has led him as a field ranger for the past 29 years. In the little spare time he has, he is studying to get a formal qualification in conservation.

 

BEST CONSERVATION PRACTITIONER

 

winner Marula South – IPZ Rangers

The IPZ Rangers are responsible for the conservation and protection of approximately 5 719 white rhino and 329 black rhino, according to the latest census results of the Kruger National Park. This equates to 80% of Kruger’s white rhino population and 81% of its black rhino population. These Rangers’ operations has resulted in a massive 18% reduction in the poachers success rate, going from a 52% poacher success rate in 2016 to a mere 34% poacher success rate in 2017. They have already arrested 204 rhino poachers in 2017. While they work tirelessly to protect these animals in Marula South, they are also responsible for all other aspects of the conservation management on their respective sections. They manage to keep their ranger teams motivated, despite the many challenges they face.


1 runner up Namibian Conservancy Rhino Ranger Incentive Programme

Namibia has long been a global leader in designing and delivering effective community-led conservation strategies. The recovery of most wildlife species can be largely attributed to local communities’ leadership and their direct involvement in wildlife conservation, in partnership with NGOs and government. The Namibian Conservancy Rhino Ranger Incentive Programme has strengthened and expanded the capacity for field conservationists to monitor the rhino on their lands. It utilizes specialists from dedicated field-based organizations to train a new generation of “rhino rangers” - highly talented groups of local people, chosen by and accountable to their conservancies, to conduct rhino monitoring, rhino tourism and more recently, targeted outreach and awareness activities within their community. Poaching rates have been reduced by 66% over the past year and 83% since the peak in 2014. Emerging outreach will also target school learners, unemployed youth and rural farmers to improve their knowledge, attitude towards rhino conservation and ultimately encourage pro-rhino behaviour among the broader community to ensure poaching remains an intolerable act of stealing from the community.


2 runner up Don English

This regional ranger is responsible for the conservation and protection of the highest density of rhino in the world – approximately 6048 rhinos. Through sheer tenacity, unpredictability and against all odds, English has managed to break below the projected trend of a 0.68% increase in rhino poaching predicted at the end of 2016/17. His anti-poaching efforts over the past year in fact kept the graph at an admirable trend of 40.15% increase instead of the projected 60.16%. He has played a leading role over the past months in the planning, coordination and execution of 225 anti-poaching operations, resulting in the neutralization of 200 rhino poachers and the recovery of 79 firearms. English ensures those under his command are always well ahead of the poachers, ensuring his rangers are trained to a higher elite level in anti-poaching operations that improve skills and effectivity. He has an impressive intelligence network that the Hawks and SAPS task force strongly rely on and his understanding of poaching tactics is incredible.


2 runner up Craig Williams

Despite the 76% increase in poaching activities from 2016 to 2017 in his Section, there was a massive 20% reduction in poacher success rate, from 56% to 36%. His section experiences an average of 38 incursions by armed poachers per month throughout the year with as many as 60 being recorded in a single month. Williams’ Section has arrested a total of 50 rhino poachers in 2017 compared to 42 in 2016 which equates to a 19% arrest increase, with 25 heavy calibre hunting rifles removed in the past year from the system. Described by colleagues as a phenomenal team player and leader, he managed to stem the tide in one of the worst hit sections by Rhino poachers by showing a massive reduction in the year on year poacher success rate which is seen as the ratio between the number of incursions versus the number of poached rhino carcasses in the Section.

 

SPECIAL AWARD FOR ENDANGERED SPECIES CONSERVATION

 

winner African Parks

African Parks takes on the complete responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments and local communities across Africa. Founded in 2000 in response to the dramatic decline of protected areas due to poor management and lack of funding, African Parks utilises a clear business approach to conserving Africas wildlife and remaining wild areas. It protects 8 parks in 11 countries – the largest amount of area under protection for any one NGO on the continent. Their ranger force is often the only stabilising force not just for that park, but for entire regions, providing security for people and wildlife alike well beyond the perimeter of the park. It is responsible for one of the largest and most significant elephant translocations in history and has restored species across Africa, including rhino to Rwanda and cheetah to Malawi. It is responsible for the growth of the elephant population in Zakouma National Park, Chad, with numbers exceeding 500 and 81 elephant calves were confirmed in December 2016. African Parks supports communities as well and contributed $17 million to the African economy in the past 12 months.


1 runner up Chris Kelly

Wildlife Act Fund Trust, co-founded by Chris Kelly, provides monitoring services to reserves which do not have the means to do so themselves. It actively advances conservation by initiating, implementing and managing monitoring projects of endangered wildlife species such as the African wild dog, cheetah, black rhino, vultures, elephant and lion. Kelly has been heavily involved in the development of anti-snare collars with reinforced plates and special rivets to prevent animals like cheetah and wild dogs from suffocating when caught in poachers’ snares. He has been a huge driving force behind their evolving into such an effective product. He has enabled the continual funding and management of six endangered and threatened wildlife monitoring teams across five provincial, one community and two private protected areas.


2 runner up Miguel Xavier

Conservation Practitioner, Miguel Xavier, works in Luengue-Luiana National Park, Angola, known for its challenging environment. Situated at a cross roads of three countries, the influx and cross border movements of poachers is a regular occurrence. Xavier and his team operate in an area where landmines still exist. On top of this, the terrain of the park is exceptionally sandy and is known for its seasonal flooding. No effective system of communication adds to the challenges of combating poaching in the Park. However, against all these odds, the committed efforts of Xavier and his team has significantly decreased the levels of poaching in the Park of species such as Giraffe, Elephant and Buffalo. Particular efforts made by Xavier to protect the very vulnerable giraffe population has led to a 60% reduction in poaching success rates of the species.

 

2017 Award Winners

2016 Award Winners

2015 Award Winners

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