Zimbabwean Conservationist Jealous Mpofu Celebrated at 2023 Tusk Conservation Awards by Prince William

In a prestigious ceremony at London's Savoy, Prince William honoured Zimbabwean conservationist Jealous Mpofu, Chief Tracker at Painted Dog Conservation, at the 2023 Tusk Conservation Awards. The awards recognize outstanding contributions to conservation efforts across Africa.

Jealous Mpofu, leading the team at Painted Dog Conservation since 1997, received the Tusk Wildlife Ranger Award for his 25 years of dedicated work with sub-Saharan wild dogs. His team tracks and monitors five packs covering a vast territory exceeding 3,000 km² in Zimbabwe.

The ceremony, hosted by natural history broadcaster Liz Bonnie, drew a distinguished audience, including notable Tusk supporters like Ronnie and Sally Wood, Katherine Jenkins OBE, Lawrence Dallaglio OBE, and Jack Savoretti. Tusk's Royal Patron, HRH The Prince of Wales, presented the awards to the winners.

The other two award recipients were Ekwoge Abwe from Cameroon, Co-hub leader and program manager at San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, and Fanny Minesi from the Democratic Republic of Congo, the General Director at Amis des Bonobo du Congo (ABC) – Friends of Bonobos of Congo.

"The Tusk Conservation Awards paint an important picture for the many unsung heroes on the frontlines of conservation, recognizing the huge importance of their work," shared Jealous Mpofu, expressing gratitude for the Tusk Wildlife Ranger Award. He emphasized that the awards encourage continued dedication to conservation for painted dogs and other species.

Mpofu highlighted the critical role of painted dogs in the ecosystem, stating, "They are a key indicator species for a healthy ecosystem, as changes in their population dynamics or health may signal broader issues within the environment, such as disease outbreaks or habitat degradation."

He emphasized the importance of the award in raising awareness, stating, "If we don’t do something to help them now, these beautiful animals will be lost to humankind."

Having grown up surrounded by wildlife, Mpofu's commitment to protecting painted dogs goes beyond professional duty. "They have become my dogs, and I know each one as an individual," he said.

The Tusk Conservation Awards, founded in 2013 with Prince William, aim to spotlight African conservation heroes and tell their stories globally. The winners, including Mpofu, will receive significant grant funding to further their crucial work.

Prince William, who has led Tusk for the past 11 years, chose the charity as one of his patronages to showcase the achievements of conservation heroes and wildlife rangers across Africa. The awards serve as a platform to amplify conservation impact and recognize those at the forefront of protecting Africa's biodiversity.

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Mungwadzi Godwin

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