In some categories there were joint winners and joint runners up, so there may be duplicate titles.





SANParks Environmental Crime Investigators (ECI)

The ECI Investigative team counters rhino poaching by gathering information that can be used to pro-actively combat wildlife crime in South Africa. The ECI were indirectly responsible for many arrests during the reporting period and actively work to support rangers in the field by assisting with investigations. Their work has helped to ensure that SANParks properties outside of the Kruger National Park have experienced zero rhino poaching losses since 2014.


1 runner up

Bhiza Dlamini

Officer Bhiza Dlamini is a crucial player in the national wildlife law enforcement structure in the Royal Eswatini Police Service. Officer Dlamini fully subscribes to the "prevention is better than cure” approach to combating organized wildlife crime. Alongside his team he has ensured 100% success rate with regards to all rhino poaching cases since 2011. He actively manages co-operation with neighboring law enforcement agencies and is a highly respected key liaison point. He adopts a zero-tolerance approach to poachers and wildlife crime syndicates that has shown to be extremely successful.





Frans Nhlongo

Over the last 30 years, Corporal Nhlongo has shown sheer dedication, commitment and courage in performing his role in the reduction of poaching in his operational area. Corporal Nhlongo has assisted with implementing innovative ways to detect poachers and to date has led his team during many armed contacts. He is self-motivated and ensures he keeps the morale of his team high at all times. His dedication is unquestionable having been seriously wounded during a contact with poachers, he returned to work within a short space of time and continues to excel in his leadership position. Corporal Nhlongo leads from the front by example and earns the respect of his ranger peers.


1 runner up

Derek Maluleke

Field Ranger Derek Maluleke recently completed 16 years loyal service where he has served with distinction as a field ranger and dog handler. Alongside his K9 companion, Charlie he has led many successful follow up counter poaching operations which can sometimes be in excess of 20 kilometers per day. Their exceptional team work has played a major role in the fact that rhinos still roam in his area of operation. Regardless of whether on or off duty Field Ranger Maluleke is always happy to assist when needed.


2 runner up

Mpho (Poster) Malonga

Poster is responsible for monitoring rhino within his focus area in Botswana, ensuring tracking collars are checked and replaced when necessary. Poster co-ordinates the teams carrying out the vital functions of monitoring and translocation. His intimate knowledge of rhino territories plays a vital role in avoiding conflict between new rhino and the existing populations. Poster’s leadership qualities have resulted in a happy and motivated team who are proud to work with him despite their daily challenges.


2 runner up

Benny Jealous Ngobeni

Leading by example, Senior Field Ranger BJ Ngobeni has built a motivated and efficient team of field rangers around him despite the challenges faced. Always leading from the front, his team goes when and where he goes due to his incredible leadership abilities. Trustworthy and honourable, Ngobeni and his team have arrested many suspects during their follow up operations. Always looking for new challenges and opportunities to develop Senior Field Ranger Ngobeni plans to further motivate and improve his team by becoming a dog-handler.





Anti-Poaching Tracking Specialists and the Special Species Protection Unit

ATS leads, directs and works alongside the SSPU in deterring, detecting and reacting to poaching incidents in the Save Valley Conservancy in Zimbabwe. The challenges they face to ensure territorial integrity of this area are immense due to political instability, lack of resources and land tenure insecurity. Despite these tremendous odds the team have used pro-active and innovative methods combined with specialised tracking and reaction skills, canine operations and above all high quality in field ranger leadership to counter the poaching threat in the area. This has resulted in multiple successes and zero rhino losses during the reporting period. An immense achievement considering the operating environment.


1 runner up

Marius Snyders

Marius is a phenomenal team player, unselfishly assisting wherever and whenever he can regardless of the time of day or situation at hand. During the reporting period Marius has coordinated and lead almost one hundred follow-up reactions which have resulted in many successful operations being carried out alongside his team of rangers. Their effectiveness has resulted in a decrease in poacher activity. Against harsh and unrelenting odds, Marius remains motivated, dedicated and passionate about continuing to reduce rhino poaching by any means possible. He sets a fine example for this team of rangers in the Kruger National Park.


2 runner up

&Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve

This community owned game reserve continues to secure important populations of both white and black rhino with zero rhino lost to poaching in the last 12 months. Their success is due to a sustained and integrated approach to rhino protection and conservation. This success has been achieved despite drastically increasing poaching pressure in Kwazulu-Natal resulting in 2017 being the worst year on record for the province. Phinda continues to integrate community development and engagement alongside risk reduction measures, effective intelligence led counter poaching operations, rhino monitoring and research projects and pursuing range expansion opportunities.





Sam Taylor and Pete Newland

Thanks to the fund-raising efforts of Sam and Pete, funds have been granted to field programs across sub-Saharan Africa through the ForRangers initiative. ForRangers works towards improving the lives of rangers in Africa. These grants have made a practical difference to ranger's working and living conditions resulting in a notable morale boost. Sam and Pete self-fund all their own costs to participate in the extreme physical challenges, working on a voluntary basis. By taking part in challenges themselves, and by inspiring others to develop their own, Sam and Pete expect the ForRangers initiative to expand and grow, long after they have to hang up their own running shoes!


1 runner up

Bruce McDonald

As conservation pilot, Bruce’s passion and dedication to the rhino and its conservation is apparent. Thanks to Bruce’s ‘eyes in the sky’, numerous wounded rhinos and rhino orphans have been located, enabling them to be treated and released. He has responded to many contacts and incursions with armed poachers during the last 12 months. Bruce aims to continue with detailed data collection of rhino and elephant in the focus areas to help ensure their survival. Aerial support is so vital to effective counter poaching operations and Bruce shares his immense knowledge and learnings with students under his instruction.


2 runner up

Marianne de Kock

The impact Marianne has had on conservation has been immediate and visible due to her steadfast commitment to ensuring high quality training of field rangers across Africa. Known as the 'The Corrector' amongst the field rangers, her learners at the Southern African Wildlife College develop a reputation for vastly improved skills once she has retrained them. Marianne tirelessly works on keeping the training material for field ranger training current, applicable and high in quality. She has served Africa’s rangers with passion and dedication in their quest to protect and conserve Africa’s remaining rhino.





André Botha

André Botha has championed the vulture cause since 2004, most recently as manager of the Vultures for Africa Programme. His passion has always been for vultures and his work results in bringing vulture conservation to the international stage. André’s achievements to fight the poisoning and poaching of Africa’s vultures have been considerable over the past 12 months when these birds have been under heightened pressures across the continent. Endangered species need champions to highlight their plight and garner support, and vultures have a true champion in André Botha.


1 runner up

Amos Gwema

Amos has been instrumental is drastically reducing the poaching of elephants and rhinos through his pro-active approach to combating wildlife crime in Zimbabwe. Amos' contribution has led to a very high conviction rate in his area of operation where his successes have been tangible. He has also worked on numerous cases combating poaching of pangolin. Facilitated workshops between wildlife law enforcement and the judiciary have led to valuable improvements on docket compilations and evidence presentation. He remains a formidable force for the protection of Zimbabwe’s endangered species.


2 runner up

Ghislain Sombo

Ghislain Somba is currently working on the protection of the remaining elephant population in Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. As Senior Park Manager Ghislain has been integral in the command and protection of the field rangers from the threat of violent rebel forces that mine, poach and illegally enter the park to plunder resources. The odds faced by Ghislain and his team are some of the toughest in Africa. In previous posts Ghislain has worked to protect Virunga’s Mountain Gorillas, the iconic Okapi in Okapi Faunal Reserve, and the Northern White Rhino and Forest Elephants of Garamba National Park. He is true ranger who serves and protects wildlife in the most inhospitable regions in Africa.





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