Shout about these extraordinary people, and the tireless work they do to protect our most vulnerable animals.
This year, the Tusk Award that recognises an emerging leader in African conservation – sponsored by Land Rover – was presented to Dr Emmanuel de Merode for his commendable work in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Since it was designated a World Heritage Site in 1979, Virunga National Park has faced 25 years of civil war; a refugee crisis and numerous armed militia occupations – over 140 rangers have lost their lives there in the past 15 years. In 2008, when Emmanuel became Director, the threats to the park were unparalleled. The National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) had taken control of the park and had evicted all of the park rangers. Despite these monumental obstructions, Emmanuel managed to negotiate with rebel leaders to allow his rangers to return to work, stopping the mass exploitation of the Park and ensuring the population of endangered mountain gorillas remains secure.
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This award is given to an individual who has been judged to be emerging as a leading conservationist and in recognition of their outstanding contribution to, and considerable success, in their chosen field. The award is sponsored by Land Rover and this year will be presented by Sir David Attenborough. The three finalist will be present at the Awards ceremony, when the winner will be announced and presented with a beautiful trophy created by Tiffany & Co as well as a grant for £20,000. The two runners up each receive a grant of £7,500.