Introducing the Finalists for the 2022 African Conservation Awards




Boris Harding NDOUROU



Boris Ndourou works on the frontline of conservation efforts in the Manovo Gounda St. Floris National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Central African Republic (CAR). As Head of Sector, he leads a team of 80 rangers and ensures tactical advice on operational deployments where he leads anti-poaching and biomonitoring activities. Until 2019, this park was subject to poachers, illegal wildlife traders and armed groups, but Boris took the lead in relaunching operational activities in the park, resulting in an increase in wildlife. To date, Boris’s anti-poaching operations deterred 147 infringers from poaching and confiscated 41 hunting weapons. He has also reached 258 transhumance pastoralists through awareness raising activities and helped divert 23,000 heads of livestock out of the national park.

The volatile socio-political and security context of CAR increases the risks to developing operational activities. Working against all odds Boris has been abducted by armed rebels and faced many other threats, yet he remains steadfast in his determination to succeed. Boris has been committed to the conservation mission since 2008 and works alongside the Wildlife Conservation Society team. Despite the volatile stability of a worn-torn country, he stands firm on the frontlines of operational and community engagement efforts in an extremely challenging environment.






Eric is responsible for the anti-poaching efforts for the mobile unit of Parc National de la Salonga, located in the Congo River Basin, in the DRC. His role is to help analyze the threats to both wildlife and community within the protected area. He then maps out the patrol itinerary, prepares the navigation tools and briefs the patrol leaders. His responsibility also includes the safekeeping of confiscated poaching material and trophies.

Eric also provides refresher training to all field outposts in Salonga, improving the anti-poaching strategies and structures in the entirety of the Park. Eric is respected by all the rangers he works with. Immediately selected due to his ability to assimilate new content and his ease of communicating with his peers, Eric integrated into the Chengeta Wildlife Training Team after completing the initial training with outstanding results. His physical strength and performance in land navigation, tactics and human rights-related topics, on top of his knowledge of the local language, naturally led him to stand up to the challenge to act as a deputy instructor.

Eric has Improved and ensured more efficient patrol deployments, while being a motivating example to his fellow rangers. He is a well-rounded, intelligent and adaptable ranger. He continues to improve anti-poaching strategies and structures throughout the Park. Eric not only ensures the implementation of new tactics, techniques and procedures in the absence of the instructor teams, he also constantly improves them, resulting in a shorter adaptation period to meet the park’s very own set of parameters.






Jacques KITITCHA is a ranger in Pendjari National Park, Benin, and is regarded as one of the best group leaders at Pendjari Special Brigade, assisting the Law Enforcement operations manager in daily organization of activities of the park’s rangers. Leading by example, Jacques coordinates at least 15 000 law enforcement patrols every year and conducts refresher training for 300 rangers. He contributed directly to the almost zero poaching incidents and illegal fishing, farming, camping and hunting in the reserve with zero losses in his team. Jacques has also helped train more than 200 soldiers who engage in joint operations with the rangers in the context of the security crisis in northern Benin. Due to his skills Jacques has also been deployed by African Parks to assist in training rangers in Chad.

Challenges endured by Jacques and his team are not only related to fighting against wildlife crime, but also rebel and terrorist activity in and around the park. He became a leader in safety operations despite the tremendous risks experienced during the atrocious terrorist attacks in Benin that left eight people dead (including five rangers) and ten others wounded. The security context in the park remains a challenge, but Jacque’s leadership and exceptional courage offers his team great motivation and ensures an effective patrol team.





Anton Mzimba



Anton was Head of Ranger Services for the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, and ensured the protection of wildlife, tourists, personnel and land. Starting as a general worker more in the mid 90’s, Anton fixed roads, built gabions, maintained fences and completed the daily tasks required of a general labourer. He always strived to be a ranger and over the next 25 years Anton rose through the ranks, progressing from ranger to Corporal, Sergeant, and finally becoming Head of Ranger Services.

Besides the numerous accolades and press, Anton’s greatest gift was his ability to lead and inspire the people from the local communities that border Kruger National Park. Anton led by example, working to change the stigma that conservation was a wealthy minority's privilege, and rather a birthright to all of humanity, from all backgrounds, races and cultures. He believed in developing his team, seeing both local men and women climb the ranks into leadership roles. He engaged thousands of youth in his career, in both formal and informal capacities, sharing his story and passion for nature with all who would listen. Anton made people from all walks of life believe that there was hope for the future, that we could live in a world where both people and wildlife could thrive.

For the last few years, Anton has received a number of death threats to both himself and his family. This was also during the height of COVID-19, where he, along with many of his leadership team, took substantial pay cuts, creating even more pressure and stress. With continuing death threats, last spring, Mr. Mzimba opened an intimidation docket with the local SAPS to report multiple threats tied to his work protecting wildlife. On 26th July 2022, Anton was assassinated outside his home by three gunmen alleged to be linked to poaching syndicates, paying the ultimate sacrifice for being a ranger and a leader on the front lines of the rhino poaching war.



Colin Rowles



Colin is the Warden of the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve, part of the Associated Private Nature Reserves bordering the Kruger National Park. He is responsible for all the reserve conservation work, management of department managers of security, technical and administrative. Colin continuously aims to introduce new rhino security interventions, such as remote ranger field bases and a K9 unit, to protect the reserve’s high value species.

He proposed, planned and coordinated the first and largest open system rhino dehorning initiative in South Africa, with neighboring reserves following suit. Although not seen in isolation to the other security interventions, the dehorning program is believed to have had the greatest impact in addressing the rhino poaching problem within the reserve and region.

The Klaserie Private Nature Reserve is an exceptionally well managed protected area thanks to Colin’s leadership and was confirmed to be the top ranking lowveld reserve in respect of the Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (METT) assessments in 2021. Colin is a team player and leads by example. He continually puts in extra hours and makes time for his team, taking time to motivate and support them. A job he has done for over 25 years.



Leonardo Gungulo



Leo Gungulo is the Field Ranger Support Manager for Oceans Without Borders in Mozambique. This marine conservation initiative, founded by &Beyond and the Africa Foundation, is dedicated to the integration of scaled marine conservation and community development at three island sites in Africa: Benguerra Island (Bazaruto Archipelago National Park, Mozambique); Vamizi Island (Northern Quirimbas Archipelago, Mozambique), and Mnemba Island (Zanzibar).

Leo’s fieldwork and management of the marine ranger teams across the seascapes of Benguerra and Vamizi Islands is foundational to the success of Oceans Without Borders’ conservation and community programmes in Mozambique. Leo’s positive impact is clearly evident in what he has achieved in the face of both the pandemic and the insurgent activity on Vamizi Island, and he has maintained field operations in the northern Quirimbas Archipelago despite the challenging security situation. He consistently works to develop and train the marine ranger teams of Vamizi and Benguerra, supporting the establishment of strong and resilient on-site capacity and plays an instrumental role in community development. Despite the challenges imposed by the security situation in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province, Leo effectively supported the management of the community and conservation ranger teams, both onsite and remotely when access to the island was not permitted, and supported the procurement of critical equipment, team supplies and patrol boat spares.





Birdlife South Africa Conservation Landscapes Initiative



BirdLife South Africa (BLSA) is one of the leading Biodiversity Stewardship implementing organisations in South Africa, securing almost 200 000 ha of privately protected grasslands and estuarine habitats since 2010. BLSA has established active conservation project officers within the Grassland and Fynbos Biomes to ensure the protection and maintenance of two of South Africa’s most endemic and threatened regions. BLSA has an active presence in the high-altitude grasslands of South Africa, which forms part of the country’s strategic water source areas, supplying water to some of the country’s most densely populated urban areas. It works in five priority estuaries to improve conservation and management of these important water and waterbird sites. BLSA has good buy-in from local communities and it continues to expand its impact to drive improved habitat maintenance and to maintain the ecological integrity of these stewardship sites. BLSA works hard to support, educate and encourage landowners to see the value in natural assets on their land and works with conservation practitioners to safeguard their biodiversity and create alternative income sources through ecotourism and healthy grazing practices.



Britius Munkombwe



Game Rangers International’s Community Outreach Manager, Britius Munkombwe, empowers local communities with access to information, livelihood security and the means to coexist peacefully with wildlife, enabling them to become active stakeholders and beneficiaries in wildlife conservation. He educates communities on the ecological, economic and aesthetic value of wildlife, and highlights the direct benefits conservation brings to their area.

Britius is also instrumental in getting communities to understand wildlife laws and educating communities how to identify, safely secure and report injured, orphaned or displaced wildlife. In order to preserve the Greater Kafue Ecosystem, the communities living within must be engaged as its guardians, so Britius’ role is as much about protecting people as it is about protecting wildlife. He identifies and manages initiatives to improve health and wellbeing in remote communities, equips farmers with wildlife safe deterrents and empowers communities with sustainable livelihoods in order to reduce reliance on the illegal wildlife trade.

The role of gender in the illegal wildlife trade is an area of special interest for Britius. He and his team identify women who have or are at risk of engaging in transactional sex at points of source, transit, or trade – thereby enabling wildlife crime – and empower them with alternative livelihoods. Britius has provided over 250 women with capacity building, tools and equipment and a peer support network, and mentors them through the process of running a small business. On average these women have doubled their household income within just four months of intervention.



Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association



In the last four decades, Kenya has lost more than 68% of its wildlife. Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association (KWCA) was established to address this issue. KWCA has mobilized a membership of 174 mainly community conservancies to adopt a holistic approach to addressing the biodiversity crisis and tackling the complex problem of habitat loss. Today the network of over 215 conservancies in the country are a celebrated success as the organization marks its 10th year anniversary. The network of conservancies has more than doubled the area under conservation from 8% of the country landmass to 20% (an addition of 7.2million ha of conserved land) today mainly due to the enabling policy environment and incentives negotiated through KWCA.

The conservancies in Kenya are on community lands, private lands, public lands and grouped private lands, managing the interest of this diverse interests and models present a challenge that KWCA has handled well. KWCA's ambitious target to mobilize the establishment of more conservancies to grow landmass under conservancies from the current 12% to 20% by 2030 represent one of the most ambitious conservation efforts, and while this may not be achieved, the progress being made illustrates a potential significant growth. KWCA made a call for a shift from community-based to community-led conservation, conservation by the local communities, and not for the communities, a future where communities determine the model and structure of the own conservation efforts, a drive for self-determination, as it adopts this approach, KWCA has the ability to influence regional and continental transformation.





Mount Kenya Trust



Mount Kenya Trust (MKT) is a Kenyan Non-Governmental Organization that works to protect and conserve the forested expanse around a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Africa’s second highest mountain – Mt. Kenya. MKT has four community ranger patrol teams that work closely with Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Forest Service in law enforcement to decrease poaching, logging, and illegal activities across Mt. Kenya. Despite being unarmed, the teams are dedicated and innovative in their approach, always changing their daily approach to patrols so that the expectations of illegal forest users are misaligned. Mobile patrols are carried out in hotspot areas to increase the element of surprise and make successful arrests. One of the teams uses Ethiopian ponies for a good portion of their patrols.

MKT spearheaded the Mount Kenya Elephant Corridor Project that links Mount Kenya and to the northern elephant ranges, reopening a historic migration route and capturing the world's imagination when the corridor was opened in 2010. MKT’s forest restoration projects benefit previously degraded areas within the Mount Kenya and Imenti Forest Reserves. A focus is not to just grow trees, but to improve the livelihood of the community.

The team works with the Ministry of Health to provide basic curative services, cancer screening and family planning services to communities that are living close to the forest reserve and do not have easy access to these services. They also work with the Ministry of Education and the local Government to deliver environmental conservation education and adolescent sexual reproductive health sensitization. Through its water projects, MKT assists the local Water Resources Users Associations to build their capacity and accountability. In 2020 a regenerative agriculture project was set up to educate communities about sustainable practices through conservation farming.



Nigerian National Park Service Management



Nigerian National Park Service Management (NNPSM) has established an ecologically and geographically balanced network of protected areas under the jurisdiction and control of the Federal Government, protecting endangered species of wild plants, animals and their habitats. Their work is also concerned with the protection and maintenance of crucial wetland and water catchment areas. Through their work, NNPSM has enhanced advocacy and sensitization of conservation, and protection of the Parks, and increased staff training and capacity development towards enhanced productivity. The increased protected areas in the country have enhanced efforts on climate change mitigation. Despite sometimes a lack of political will for conservation and a lack of resources, great conservation strides have been made. Their work has led to the approval of 10 additional National Parks in Nigeria and increased awareness on wildlife conservation among Nigerians, especially within the Government circle. NNPSM continues to conserve biological diversity in Nigeria as well as promote and provide education about wildlife and nature conservation.



Simba Scouts Team



Simba Scouts are a conservation team working within Kuku Group Ranch in southeastern Kenya. They include a dedicated team of 18 Maasai warriors (Moran’s), who day in and day out monitor GPS collared lions and other wildlife species. Kuku Group Ranch is a community-owned important wildlife corridor that connects Amboseli, Chyulu, and Tsavo West National Parks. The Simba Scouts monitor wildlife by engaging with the community and collecting data. The collected data is analyzed and used to gauge various aspects of different wildlife species such as their eating habits. The monitoring is also a very significant measure for mitigating human-wildlife conflict within the local Maasai communities.

The Simba Scouts partake in daily foot patrols. Their primary mandate is to locate areas that lions inhabit. After finding these locations, the Simba Scout teams alert the local communities not to graze their livestock in these areas. This serves as an early warning system to human-wildlife conflicts. In the past, lion predation on livestock was often followed by a lion hunt with the intention of killing the lions involved in the incident. A major impact of the work done by Simba Scouts is the reduction of retaliatory killing. Apart from the early warning and community involvement, the Simba Scouts are also important in wildlife monitoring. Another impact of the Simba Scout has been the influence of the community in embracing conservation. Before becoming Simba Scouts, some members of the team were renowned warriors who led in lion hunts. However, they have transformed into becoming the lion guardians in the ecosystem which is testament to the good work they do.




Special commendations by the judging panel for their excellent work were given to Field Ranger TANKOUANOU André, Pendjari National Park, Benin; Game Ranger Martin Nawaseb, Save the Rhino Trust, Namibia; and Conservation Supporter Roget Fox, SANParks, South Africa.

These awards are hosted annually by the Game Rangers’ Association of Africa (GRAA) and are made possible with the generous support of sponsors CNEI. His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco, who is committed to the protection of endangered species through the support of his Foundation, is the Patron of the African Conservation Awards.

The winners of each category will be announced at a function during the African Ranger Congress where they will be celebrated by their ranger colleagues.

Photos: Peter Chadwick and Thomas Nicolon as part of the Game Rangers Association of Africa Ranger Legacy Project to raise the profile of Africa’s rangers and showcase their critical and diverse role in conservation supported by the Wildlife Ranger Challenge and the Scheinberg Relief Fund.


Note to the editors:
Tagline: Recognising a wide range of exceptional individuals and organisations and raising awareness of the amazing work they do. #ACA2022

Images: Peter Chadwick and Marcus Westberg as part of the Game Rangers Association of Africa Ranger Legacy Project to raise the profile of Africa's rangers and showcase their critical and diverse role in conservation supported by the Wildlife Ranger Challenge and the Scheinberg Relief Fund.

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GRAA background:
The Game Rangers' Association of Africa (GRAA) is a non-profit organisation, founded in 1970 which provides support, networks and representation for rangers across Africa. The GRAA is a proud member of the International Ranger Federation (IRF) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) where it serves as the voice of the African ranger.




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