PICTURE: Michael Hammond/AP
Johannesburg - Nominations for the 7th annual Rhino Conservation Awards, which recognise the unsung heroes and significant role players involved in rhino conservation, are now open.

The awards which were founded by Dr Larry Hansen, and Miss Xiaoyang Yu, with the support of ZEISS and China New Enterprises Inc, and in collaboration with the South African Department of Environmental Affairs and the Game Rangers Association of Africa, acknowledge the work being done in the fight against rhino poaching.

This year's awards will be presented on Friday 24th August 2018 at a Gala Dinner function at Montecasino in Gauteng, South Africa. High-level dignitaries under the patronage of His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco will attend, including African government officials, foreign diplomats, media, sponsors, and other significant NGOs supporting rhino conservation.
 
Over the last decade, more than 7 000 rhinos have been lost to poachers in Africa alone. The only way to end the onslaught against this vulnerable species is through the efforts of dedicated rangers and conservationists working tirelessly to stop poachers in their tracks. Conservationists often have to face physical danger, political opposition and severe financial constraints as they work to save our natural heritage.

The awards aim to recognise the leaders in rhino conservation in Africa and in so doing, raise awareness of the work they do, thereby motivating these brave men and women to continue the fight for the rhino’s survival for the benefit of this and future generations. 

There are five categories in which people or organisations can be nominated:

Best Field Ranger:

This must be an employed field ranger who works daily in the field of active rhino protection and risks personal safety and comfort to do so.

Best Conservation Practitioner:

This must be a person, team or entity working full-time in the conservation field and combating rhino poaching through excellence in protected area management, intelligence gathering, strategic counter poaching operations etc.

Best Political, Investigative and Judicial support:

This must be a person, team or entity that plays a significant role in the political, investigative or judicial arenas and whose actions resulted in supporting the conservation of rhino in Africa. This includes law enforcement agencies, units and personnel.

Best Rhino Conservation Supporter:

This must be a person, team or entity that plays a significant role in supporting the conservation of rhino. Supporters can lend support from any field that includes but is not limited to the scientific, awareness, education or funding spheres.

Special Award for Endangered Species Conservation:

This must be a person, team or entity working full-time in the field to combat poaching of other endangered species through in field protection, protected area management, intelligence gathering, strategic counter poaching operations etc. This includes field rangers and conservation practitioners.

Only work done over the past 12 months starting July 2017 will be considered in the adjudication.

The nomination form is available online at www.rhinoconservationawards.org and nominations close 24 June 2018. Short-listed nominees will be contacted directly in writing.