Winner of the Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa 2016

Cathy Dreyer

South Africa

Cathy started her career over 17 years ago at the age of 22 with South African National Parks as a conservation student, assisting with the capture of black rhino. This became a turning point in her life as she developed a deep, lifelong passion for the species (Cathy calls it a “slight obsession”), which has shaped her career in conservation.

Coming from humble roots and starting a career at the bottom of the ladder, Cathy’s perseverance and focus built a career which graphically illustrates that being disadvantaged is not a barrier to achieving great heights, not only in conservation but also in life itself. On hearing about her nomination, Cathy said: “It has been incredibly humbling and I am truly honored to have been nominated for this award.”

Cathy’s success has been totally through her own efforts and as a woman she has faced greater challenges than most.  Crucially, Cathy has helped to bring people working in conservation together, principally in a number of national and international rhino translocations.  Her response to the nomination shows her overarching modesty: “This nomination is as much for the people who have inspired me, taught me what I know and continue to motivate me daily.”

I have always been driven by my work and family has had to take a back seat for a number of years.

Cathy’s work has led directly to the establishment of new black rhino populations and in South Africa, the country with the highest population of rhino – yet facing the highest rate of poaching – Cathy offers the potential to provide vital protection for this species far into the future. Behind her success is her approach to life: “the harder the battle the sweeter the victory”.

Cathy Dreyer is a clear example of the commitment and future of young African leadership in Conservation in Africa: “I am driven by the need to feel that I am making a difference and contributing meaningfully to conservation.

Tusk Award winners: Where are they now?

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