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In 2012, Dr Larry Hansen, then CEO of Hasselblad Cameras, and Ms Xiaoyang Yu, Founding Partner of China New Enterprise Investment (CNEI), a China focused growth capital fund, started the Rhino Conservation Awards in South Africa. They came together to sponsor the Rhino Conservation Award with a desire to increase capture and prosecution of poachers and to cut demand for rhino horn. Dr Hansen founded the “Carl Zeiss Tiger Conservation Award” 14 years ago in India, which project is still running.

Dr Hansen and Ms Yu recognised that, although there were many organisations in South Africa working to combat Rhino poaching through training, offering technical assistance, funding and other projects, there was no recognition for the people who are at the forefront of fighting the scourge – the Game Ranger. This led to the partnership with The Game Rangers Association of Africa (GRAA), a non-profit organisation with a membership of over 1 500 across Africa, many of whom are rangers active in anti-poaching activities. The Department of Environmental Affairs of South Africa has endorsed the Awards and the Minister has been Keynote Speaker at the events.

The Rhino Conservation Awards aim to create awareness of Rhino conservation issues and to recognise a wide range of exceptional individuals and organisations for their efforts in the Rhino conservation field across different categories.

In 2014 it was decided that, in addition to recognising those individuals that are directly involved in combating rhino poaching, there would be an additional benefit to offer an educational aspect to this project. A one-day workshop was initiated and run by the GRAA to assist Rangers with up to date information on combating rhino poaching. This workshop included Technical (i.e. training, equipment, legal) and Social aspects (i.e. psychological effects, trauma and family involvement).

This part of the project proved very valuable and has become an integral part of the Rhino Conservation Awards.

The stature of the Rhino Conservation Awards was elevated during 2014 when His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco, who is committed to the protection of species dangerously close to extinction through the support of his Foundation to various preservation projects, accepted the role of Patron of the Rhino Conservation Initiative and the Rhino Conservation Awards.

This Project has been well received by the public and media and the 2014 event achieved media coverage to the value of over R500, 000 (non-paying).

2016 Award Winners

2015 Award Winners

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