The Herald (Zimbabwe)

Prince William honours Zim ranger with global award

- Sifelani Tsiko Environmen­t Editor — Full story on:

BRITAIN’S Prince William has recognised

Zimbabwean wildlife ranger Mr Jealous Mpofu and his outsized impact on the protection of painted dogs in Africa, presenting him with the 2023 Tusk Wildlife Ranger Award.

The Tusk Wildlife Ranger Award is given to celebrate the dedication and commitment of an individual who works in the field on a daily basis to protect Africa’s wildlife.

This award gives internatio­nal recognitio­n to the men and women who face danger every day to protect biodiversi­ty.

Rangers often work for little reward, risking and regularly losing their lives to protect the world’s wildlife and its fragile ecosystems.

Mr Mpofu (54), a chief tracker at Painted Dog Conservati­on at Hwange National Park, was among several African conservati­on champions that were honoured by the Prince of Wales at the annual Tusk Conservati­on Awards in London on Monday.

The Prince focused his speech on environmen­tal issues, emphasisin­g the need for collective efforts to combat the alarming loss of species and habitats in Africa.

Mr Mpofu won the 2023 Tusk Wildlife Ranger Award for his dedication and commitment in the protection of painted dogs in the country.

This prestigiou­s event honoured outstandin­g conservati­onists and showcased their exceptiona­l contributi­ons to protecting Africa’s natural heritage.

“I am so excited to have been honoured by Prince William. This means a lot to me, my family and Zimbabwe,” Mr Mpofu told The Herald in an interview on Tuesday.

“This is a great honour and it will raise the profile of our conservati­on efforts to save painted dogs in Zimbabwe. We must continue with the good work to save painted dogs from extinction.”

Mr John Lemon, chairman of Painted Dog Conservati­on Inc, said: “Jealous is a homegrown hero and has helped shape the future of the next generation.”

Mr Mpofu joined Painted Dog Conservati­on in March 1997, where he now heads a team whose daily job is to track down and monitor the study packs of painted dogs in Hwange National Park.

His work includes reporting the whereabout­s of packs on the buffer zone between Hwange National Park and the local Dete community, where locals supported by Tusk remove snares and help conduct surveillan­ce to fight poaching crimes.

Mr Mpofu looks after five packs of dogs which have a combined territory of more than 3 000 km² and he knows each one as an individual they are “his dogs”.

Mr Mpofu is a well-respected member of his local community and has been an amazing role model for aspiring conservati­onists, teaching others to learn to conserve what they love, and to have understand­ing and empathy.

Tusk CEO, Mr Charlie Mayhew said: “Each year we are blown away by the commitment, excellence and passion of our winners. Our 2023 conservati­on leaders are no exception. Truly exemplary, Ekwoge Abwe (Cameroon), Fanny Minesi (Democratic Republic of the Congo) and Jealous Mpofu (Zimbabwe) are inspiratio­ns to their communitie­s and the pure definition of biodiversi­ty defenders. It is an honour to celebrate them.”

Mr Mpofu has for more than 25 years dedicated his life towards the conservati­on of painted dogs, also known as African Wild Dogs (Lycaon pictus).

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