This evening, the Tusk Conservation Awards took place (virtually) to celebrate the extraordinary work of dedicated conservationists across the African continent. Now in their eighth year, the awards are an excellent opportunity to recognise the tireless devotion of these remarkable individuals and show our gratitude for their persistent hard work.

Wildlife conservation is a cause I hold close to my heart. That’s why I am immensely proud that the Nick Maughan Foundation has committed £1m over five years to support Tusk’s fantastic conservation initiatives across Africa. Our support has helped to more than double the conservation grants given to the winners and finalists of the awards.

I am particularly proud of Amos Gwema, Principal Intelligence Officer of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and winner of this year’s Tusk Wildlife Ranger Award, which the Foundation is sponsoring. Amos has dramatically altered the way intelligence work contributes to the protection of Zimbabwe’s wildlife – methods I can only hope will be replicated across the continent.

Having trained in Zimbabwe’s police department, Amos has since dedicated his work to reducing elephant poaching in the region. In the last 15 years, he has convicted the highest number of poachers of any officer in the park’s authority. The park’s 14,500 square kilometres are home to 35,000 elephants. Thanks to Amos and his team, this vast area has witnessed a significant reduction in illegal poaching – from over 300 elephants killed in 2013 to 25 in 2019. None of this would have been possible without Amos’s work within Zimbabwe’s rural communities to help address poaching at root.

Despite the international ivory trade being heavily restricted in the 1990s, wildlife crime – notably poaching – continues to be a severe threat in the region. The ongoing global pandemic presents an acute economic challenge to conservation initiatives across Africa, including law enforcement. Amos’ work, as well as the profoundly important work of tonight’s other winners, is therefore vital. Now more than ever, these men and women working at the frontlines of conservation need our support.

Find out how you can help today at Tusk.org.