Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa Finalist 2016
Dr Olivier Nsengimana
Oliver Nsengimana is currently on a one-man mission to save the grey crowned crane in Rwanda. He trained as a vet and originally worked with gorillas. It was at this time that he recalls: “As soon as I was out in the field, working with these amazing animals, I thought, wow, this is me, conservation is what I was meant to do with my life.”
Olivier grew up in post-genocide Rwanda and he feels that all Rwandans have a role to play in rebuilding their country. He realised the plight of the grey crowned crane (with only between 3 – 500 remaining in Rwanda) and he “decided it was my time to do something about it” and make his own unique contribution to his country.
Having the cranes disappear means there is something wrong, a balance that has not been maintained. If we protect animals in their habitats, we are protecting ourselves. If we fail, we are endangering our children.
Such is his drive and dedication that the project is achieving remarkable success in rehabilitating captive cranes, developing environmental clubs for children, launching media campaigns and fighting illegal trade in collaboration with the government. His family life is dominated by his work and his daughter recognised the call of the crane before that of any farm animal!
And the driving force behind his current work? “A strong belief that the involvement of the local population in conservation issues is the key to their success and sustainability.” Olivier recognises that the threats to biodiversity are complex and the solutions require an holistic approach to achieve results.