WINNER OF THE TUSK AWARD FOR CONSERVATION IN AFRICA 2018
From a young age Vincent Opyene knew that he wanted to make a difference to the state of Uganda’s wildlife and so he combined his passion for the natural world with his love of the law. His experience in the field, conducting ranger patrols in National Parks for the Uganda Wildlife Authority, combined with his experience in the Courts as a state prosecutor, was the inspiration that Vincent needed to establish the Natural Resource Conservation Network (NRCN).
Uganda is a major international transit hub for ivory, pangolins, and other illicit wildlife products from across East and Central Africa. Thanks to NRCN and their partnership with government, up to four significant wildlife trackers are arrested each month.
The NRCN model is working proof on how civil society can work with government and other partners to tackle corruption and improve governance. Vincent and his team have been given authority to prosecute wildlife cases on behalf of the government. Uganda now has a specific court dedicated to wildlife cases as a direct result of their success. This exemplifies the significance of Vincent and NRCN’s work in changing policy and practice in enforcing wildlife laws.
Wildlife is a resource belonging to future and present generation; we must change our attitude on wildlife and everybody must get involved in ensuring sustainable use.
Vincent has single-handedly changed how Uganda addresses the illegal wildlife trade. He risks his life on a daily basis to combat wildlife trafficking and to bring criminals to justice. His persistent, silent, unique work behind the scenes to address wildlife crime on the street and in the courtroom
is making a real and significant difference.
Vincent is an unsung hero who works behind the scenes to make real change happen in addressing wildlife crime.
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Tusk Conservation Award Nominees Force Ngwira, Dickson Kaelo, Vincent Opyene, Julius Obwona and Pete Morkel with Vian Sharif the Tusk Conservation Awards 2018 in partnership with Investec Asset Management at Banqueting House on November 08, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for Tusk Trust)