While delegates debated dozens of species listing proposals and other documents during CoP18, wildlife law enforcement officers, attorneys, and forensic scientists continued their efforts to combat wildlife crime in the field, courtroom, and laboratory. The dedicated work of these largely unknown conservation heroes protects the world’s wildlife from poachers and criminal syndicates that threaten global biodiversity.
Since 1997, at each CITES CoP, AWI has honored individuals, organizations, and government agencies that have demonstrated excellence in the fight against wildlife crime with the Clark R. Bavin Wildlife Law Enforcement Award. The award, presented at a reception hosted by the Species Survival Network, is named after the late chief of the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement, who pioneered the use of covert investigations, sting operations, and forensic science to identify and prosecute wildlife criminals.
In 2019, AWI, together with CITES Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero, recognized another ensemble of deserving award recipients representing a wide range of specialists required to combat wildlife crime. Tragically, 17 of those recognized lost their lives in defense of wildlife.
The 2019 Clark R. Bavin Wildlife Award recipients are:
- Ross Galbraith, wildlife law enforcement officer for Environment Canada (retired), for his career enforcing wildlife laws in Canada and internationally and for his ongoing work, as a volunteer, supporting Interpol and wildlife law enforcement efforts worldwide.
- Julius Kariuki Kimani, senior assistant director and head of investigations for the Kenya Wildlife Service (posthumous), for his efforts to combat wildlife crime and reduce poaching rates.
- Limbe Wildlife Center, Cameroon, for its care of seized wildlife and its programs to combat wildlife crime.
- Lorena Fernández, attorney general for the environment in Honduras, for her work to improve initiatives to combat wildlife crime nationally and regionally.
- Anti-Smuggling Bureau of China Customs, for its arrest and prosecution of several major wildlife traffickers and disruption of wildlife crime syndicates globally.
- Rameshwar Thakur, deputy director of intelligence and coordination, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, India, for his coordination of enforcement agencies to combat national and international organized wildlife crime.
- Josefina L. de Leon, chief of the Wildlife Resources Division for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Philippines (retired), for strengthening efforts to combat wildlife crime.
- Dr. Elizabeth Ehi-Ebewele, deputy director and head of the Wildlife and CITES Management Division of the Department of Forestry, Nigeria (posthumous), for improving efforts to combat wildlife crime in Nigeria and West Africa.
- Julius Mwandai, senior assistant director and head of investigations, Kenya Wildlife Service (retired), for his leadership in combatting wildlife crime and reducing elephant and rhino poaching rates.
- Vivek Menon, cofounder and CEO, Wildlife Trust of India, for his career of championing wildlife protection, training enforcement officers, and combating wildlife crime nationally and internationally.
- PAMS Foundation and its cofounder, Wayne Lotter (whose relentless pursuit of poachers led to his murder), for supporting and training of rangers and game scouts in Tanzania to strengthen efforts to combat wildlife crime.
- Patrick Muhayirwa, Charles Syaira, Jonas Malyani, Pacifique Fikirini, Faustin Nzabakurikiza, Jean Byamungu, Barthelemie Mulewa, Théodore Prince, Liévin Kasumba, Kanawa Sibomana, Ila Muranda, Rachel Baraka, Kasereka Ezéchiel, Freddy Muliro, Hakizimana Chadrack, and Musubaho Maliro Antwi, rangers of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, all killed in the line of duty as they fought to protect wildlife.