Tutu and De Klerk hand out conservation awards

05 October 2017 - 16:26 By Claire Keeton

Two South Africans‚ Lucky Ndlovu and Rian Labuschagne‚ won international conservation awards on Wednesday night in Cape Town.

A frail but jovial Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu gave the lifetime achiever Prince William Award for Conservation to Labuschagne while honouring his wife‚ Lorna‚ for their dedication to protecting Africa’s wildlife over 35 years.

Prince William is the patron of the Tusk Conservation Awards‚ which were held in Africa for this first time this week.

“I am thrilled to congratulate you on a wonderful achievement for the work you have done and are doing‚ and your very beautiful spouse‚” Tutu told Labuschagne‚ who has worked in countries including South Africa‚ Malawi‚ Tanzania and Chad setting up systems to protect wildlife.

Former president FW de Klerk handed the award to Ndlovu and joint winner Solomon Chidunuka‚ seen as the foremost warden in Zambia.

“This occasion is a little bit like the Oscars except for a much better cause‚” De Klerk told the men‚ who got a standing ovation for their courage and commitment to conservation.

Ndlovu‚ the most senior field ranger in the Kruger National Park‚ won the Tusk Wildlife Ranger Award for his outstanding dedication and for bringing rhino poachers to justice. He and his team were responsible for arresting his senior officer‚ who was involved in poaching.

Accepting the award‚ Ndlovu thanked his wife and family‚ his team and their two dogs who help catch poachers. “This has motivated me even more to train young people who must know when right is right‚” he said.

Chidunuka‚ in a wheelchair‚ said his wife had accused him of loving his work more than his family‚ but he had told her: “I want our children and future generations to enjoy the benefit of wildlife.”

Graca Machel handed the Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa to Brighton Kumchedwa from Malawi‚ who has in the past 26 years helped establish a legal framework to protect wildlife.

Among those he thanked were Malawian President Peter Mutharika for “providing high-level political commitment and pushing conservation to the top of the agenda”.

Politicians‚ celebrities and athletes‚ including Stormers’ rugby player Seabelo Senatla‚ attended the event. The conservation organisation Tusk has 80 projects across 21 countries‚ with more than R230 million invested in them.

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