Cameroon’s Dr. Ekwoge Abwe receives Tusk’s 2023 Prince William Award


Cameroon’s Dr. Ekwoge Abwe on Monday, November 27, 2023 during the 11th annual Tusk Conservation Awards at London’s Savoy received Prince William Award for Conversation in Africa.

The Prince William Award for Conservation in Africa is given for a lifetime’s achievement, recognizing outstanding dedication and exceptional continued contribution to conservation in Africa.

The Tusk Conservation Awards, in partnership with Ninety One, honour the heroes of African conservation, and help tell their stories to the world.

Dr. Ekwoge Abwe receiving award from Prince Williams

For over a decade, The Tusk Conservation Awards have served as a springboard for Africa’s foremost conservationists. These guardians of biodiversity have since risen to the top of their fields, scaling their work and amplifying conservation impact across the continent.

As co-hub leader and program manager at San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance and President of the Cameroon Biodiversity Association, Ekwoge is one of the country’s eminent conservationists. He is a proud Cameroonian who has dedicated his life to the conservation of the riches of his country.

Ekwoge Abwe says: “I have always believed that we humans have a duty to ensure that those less fortunate than ourselves, as well as our children and future generations live in harmony in a diverse and thriving world for the benefit of all.

“I have devoted my entire adult life to biodiversity conservation for human wellbeing. Though I have impacted many individuals and communities, I had no idea that what I do would ever be recognized and celebrated in this way, let alone at this stage of my life and given the challenges we face in Cameroon. I am both humbled and gratified that my nominators and the panel of judges saw me worthy of this prestigious award.”

About Dr. Ekwoge Abwe  

Ekwoge Abwe is widely recognized as one of West/Central Africa’s most effective, dynamic, and committed conservationists. He was born in an inaccessible village in what is now the Bakossi Mountains National Park, and was brought up to believe that hard work and generosity could take him anywhere.

Ekwoge has impacted conservation on a significant local, national and international level over more than two decades. Locally, he has been critical to forging alliances between more than 40 traditional chiefs of two different tribes in the 2000km2 Ebo landscape, who were engaged in a civil war during Cameroon’s Independence only 60 years previously.

He is passionate about primates, particularly great apes, and was the first to witness chimpanzees using stone and wood to crack open tree nuts in Cameroon a new behavioral discovery for the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee. Ekwoge’s work with chimpanzees at Ebo has been ground-breaking and vital for their conservation.

L-R Fanny Minesi, Ekwoge Abwe, Prince Williams and Jealous Mpofu

His research on the chimpanzee habitat requirements, social structure, and behavior has been invaluable in developing effective conservation strategies. Forest elephant conservation has also been a priority of Ekwoge’s and he and his team pioneered the use of video camera trapping for monitoring of Ebo’s elusive forest elephants.

One of the Ekwoge’s most notable recent achievements is leading a campaign to dissuade the government of Cameroon from illegally logging Ebo’s forest. The destruction the forest would have led to the loss of entire communities of chimpanzees, gorillas, elephants, and other wildlife.

Bethan Morgan, Head of African Forest Program at San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, and Ekwoge’s nominator, said; “Ekwoge’s hope and belief in a better future for all is infectious, and is evident in the significant numbers of young Cameroonians who call him their mentor, His inauspicious start may have led to his determination to succeed, and a deep knowledge and respect for the poverty-stricken populations with which he works. His pride in and love for his country and people shines through.”

Charlie Mayhew, Chief Executive of Tusk, commented; “Ekwoge’s conservation impact on a local, national and international level is unparalleled”,

“The judges were impressed by his notable achievements in peace-making and activism, his commitment to the people of Cameroon, and the extraordinary legacy he has created. He is a worthy winner of this lifetime achievement award and we’re honored to celebrate this true defender of biodiversity.”

He added that each year they are blown away by the commitment, excellence and passion of winners. “Our 2023 conservation leaders are no exception. Truly exemplary, Ekwoge, Fanny and Jealous are inspirations to their communities and the pure definition of biodiversity defenders. It is an honour to celebrate them.” Charlie Mayhew added.

Other categories of the award include: The Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa, sponsored by Defender – this award recognises an individual judged to be an emerging leader in conservation achieving outstanding success in their chosen field.

Winner:  Fanny Minesi, General Director at the Amis des Bonobo du Congo (ABC) – Friends of Bonobos of Congo.

A determined advocate for nature and people, Fanny Minesi rescues endangered bonobos from poachers, gives them sanctuary, and rewilds them in the rainforests of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Tusk Wildlife Ranger Award, sponsored by the Nick Maughan Foundation – this award gives international recognition to the men and women who work in the field protecting wildlife in Africa on a daily basis.

Winner: Jealous Mpofu, Chief Tracker at Painted Dog Conservation.

Jealous has worked with Painted Dog Conservation in Zimbabwe since 1997, and he heads up the team whose daily job it is to track down and monitor five packs of wild dogs with a combined territory of more than 3,000 km2.



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