John Kamanga is a grassroots conservation leader who has dedicated his career to developing a vision for the co-existence of pastoralists and wildlife. His conservation philosophy draws on indigenous traditions, while incorporating modern realities and conservation opportunities.
As a founder and director of SORALO, a unique organisation representing 16 Maasai communities living across several million hectares in Kenya, his vision is helping protecting one of Kenya’s most critical conservation areas. In a country where a significant amount of wildlife lives outside protected areas, John’s work at SORALO has been a blueprint in empowering communities and equipping them with the modern tools to conserve wildlife.
John’s ability to promote and articulate the role of communities in conservation has been second to none. His vision of conservation in Kenya is truly collaborative and driven by local communities safeguarding some of Kenya’s most important conservation areas.
The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, announced the winner of Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa as John Kamanga.
The other finalists were George Owoyesigire (Uganda) and Ian Stevenson (Zambia).
Prince William referred to the three as front line rangers in the conservation of wildlife tourism.
Kamanga’s award comes with USD75, 000 in cash which will go into supporting wildlife activity he runs back home in Kenya.
As part of the ceremony, His Royal Highness spoke via video call to nominees of the Tusk Award.
The award is a prize awarded to an individual who is judged to be an emerging leader in conservation.
During the call, The Duke met finalists Owoyesigire from Uganda, Stevenson of Zambia, and Kamanga from Kenya, and congratulated them on their dedication and exceptional contribution to African wildlife protection.
William previously met finalists George Owoyesigire from Uganda, Ian Stevenson of Zambia, and John Kamanga from Kenya, and congratulated them on their dedication and exceptional contribution to African wildlife protection.
Story by Kurgat Marindany
The Duke also spoke with the winners of the Wildlife Ranger and Prince William Awards, who were expected to be announced at the awards ceremony, and CEO of Tusk, Charlie Mayhew.
The nominees and winners discussed their crucial work on the front line of the battle to save some of the world’s most iconic species, and the vital role that communities have to play in the success of conservation efforts.
They also discussed the impact of the global pandemic on conservation work across Africa, which has yielded drastic industry-wide cuts in salaries and resources.
During a video call with Charlie Mayhew, CEO of Tusk, The Duke of Cambridge said of this year’s nominees and winners: “A lot of these people go under the radar. I hope that the Tusk Awards highlight and showcase their wonderful talent and hard work across the globe”.
“I hope their stories go far and wide, that people feel inspired and young people look to these role models and say ‘I can do the same, I want to be involved and I care as much as they do too.”
Launched by Prince William in 2013, the awards celebrate the work of leading conservationists in Africa.
Kamanga, who admitted he had no idea he would win the prestigious award, expressed gratitude to his Maasai community for making Kenya a great nation that has shone in Africa.
“I have never believed in arming rangers to protect the wildlife. Wildlife is part and parcel of our community and guns will never separate us from our wild animals,” said an excited Kamanga when he talked to the Star after he was announced the winner of the award.
He is a grassroots conservation leader who has dedicated his career to developing a vision for the co-existence of pastoralists and wildlife.
Kamanga’s conservation philosophy draws on indigenous traditions while incorporating modern realities and conservation opportunities.
As a founder and director of South Rift Association of Land Owners (SORALO), a unique organisation representing 16 Maasai communities living across several millions of hectares of land in Kenya, his vision is helping critical conservation areas.
In a country where a significant amount of wildlife lives outside protected areas, Kamanga’s work at SORALO has been a blueprint in empowering communities and equipping them with the modern tools to conserve wildlife.
His ability to promote and articulate the role of communities in conservation has been second to none.
Kamanga’s vision of conservation in Kenya is collaborative and driven by local communities safeguarding some of Kenya’s most important conservation areas.
“Communities have been and will continue to be, the custodians of wildlife. However, we have to give them the tools for today. We are living in the 21st Century, where things have changed, where there are different economic pressure,” he said.
Earlier, the Duke of Cambridge, 38, said he was delighted to present the lifetime achievement prize – given to an individual for their outstanding dedication to wildlife conservation – to Hipólito Lima, a ranger’s supervisor, from São Tomé and Príncipe, who has dedicated 26 years of his life to helping sea turtles survive.
Owoyesigire works with Uganda Wildlife Authority as Deputy Director, Community Conservation. He has improved relations between local communities and wildlife by promoting benefit-sharing; investment in wildlife enterprises, addressing human-wildlife conflict issues and promoting conservation education.
He also implemented the beekeeping project, an initiative that uses bees as a deterrent against elephant crop-raiding.
Stevenson works with Conservation Lower Zambezi (CLZ) as a CEO. He has been combatting issues such as poaching, human-wildlife conflict and illegal activity.
He made CLZ the multi-faceted and holistic organisation it is today, paving the way in law enforcement, environmental education and community engagement.
For more information about the award, please visit https://tuskawards.com/