Dr. Elizabeth Ehi-Ebewele Honored With 2019 Clark R. Bavin Wildlife Law Enforcement Award

The late Dr. Elizabeth Ehi-Ebewele and 11 others have been honoured with the Clark R. Bavin Wildlife Law Enforcement Award by the Animal Welfare Institute in Geneva.

The awardees were presented with the award on 20th August 2019 for demonstrating excellence in combating wildlife crime.

Dr. Elizabeth Ehi-Ebewele created Nigeria’s first national audience on wildlife crime. According to the organisers, she played a key role in the decision by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to develop a coordinated response on wildlife crime.

According to the Animal Welfare Institute:

“Geneva, Switzerland (August 21, 2019) – Wildlife law enforcement champions from 10 countries were recognized Tuesday with the Clark R. Bavin Wildlife Law Enforcement Award at the 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Geneva.

The Animal Welfare Institute presents the prestigious award to individuals, organizations and agencies that have demonstrated excellence in combating wildlife crime.”

AWI President Cathy Liss stated:

“The importance of efforts to combat wildlife crime cannot be understated.

Those honored today for their superlative efforts, including 16 rangers who died in the line of duty, should be recognized worldwide for their dedication to saving the unique biodiversity of this planet from wildlife criminals who steal wildlife from all of us.”

The 2019 winners of the 2019 Clark R. Bavin Wildlife Law Enforcement Award are:

  • Dr. Elizabeth Ehi-Ebewele (being honored posthumously), former deputy director and head of the Wildlife and CITES Management Division of the Department of Forestry in Nigeria, for providing a solid foundation for Nigeria to reduce wildlife crime by bringing in a diverse group of stakeholders. Dr. Elizabeth Ehi-Ebewele created Nigeria’s first national guidance on wildlife crime, after conducting a wildlife threat assessment analysis. She also helped develop West Africa’s strategy for combatting wildlife crime through a coordinated response from member countries of the Economic Community of West African States.


  • Limbe Wildlife Centre in Cameroon, for providing a safe haven and rehabilitation for seized wildlife, including thousands of parrots and hundreds of primates, and offering wildlife conservation education to thousands of children.


  • Vivek Menon, founder, trustee, executive director and CEO of Wildlife Trust of India, for a decades-long career training more than 20,000 wildlife enforcement officers in more than 50 countries; documenting, prioritizing and securing elephant corridors in India; setting up the country’s first wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center; and coordinating desnaring sweeps targeting poachers.


  • Rameshwar Singh Thakur, deputy director for intelligence and coordination for India’s Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, for his role in overseeing efforts by enforcement agencies to combat national and international organized wildlife crime. Thakur pursued the creation of a wildlife crime database that incorporates real-time data to help analyze crime trends and develop effective deterrents. This information has helped wildlife law enforcement, forest and police agencies throughout India create profiles for nearly 2,000 poachers.


  • Julius Kariuki Kimani (being honored posthumously), former director of Parks and Reserves for the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), for his decades of service improving inter-agency efforts to fight wildlife crime, raising awareness within Kenya’s judiciary about the importance of wildlife protection, and enhancing intelligence to identify wildlife criminals and gangs.


  • Julius Maluki Mwandai, senior assistant director and head of investigations for the Kenya Wildlife Service, for mentoring thousands of wildlife law enforcement officers in Kenya and across Africa over several decades, transforming KWS’ paramilitary school into a distinguished regional wildlife law enforcement training institution, and demonstrating exemplary leadership in dramatically reducing rhino and elephant poaching in Kenya. Elephant poaching numbers in the country decreased from 384 in 2012 to 40 in 2018, and rhino poaching numbers decreased from 30 to 4 during the same period. In addition, nearly 10,000 wildlife criminals were arrested.


  • Lorena Alfonsina Fernández, attorney general for the environment in Honduras and secretary of the Central American Wildlife Enforcement Network, for leading numerous successful wildlife law enforcement operations; establishing national law enforcement networks that contributed to an increase in joint inspections, prosecuted cases and judicial decisions enforcing wildlife legislation; enhancing intelligence sharing; and improving training for law enforcement officers and members of the judiciary. Fernández supported the development of a wildlife enforcement app in cooperation with the United States, and oversaw a critical operation in Honduras targeting illegal timber traffickers.


  • Ross Galbraith, retired wildlife law enforcement officer for Environment Canada, for his tireless efforts over 20 years enforcing Canadian wildlife laws protecting fish, seabirds harmed by pollution, and other imperiled species, along with mentoring young officers and conducting enforcement training in Botswana.


  • Josefina L. de Leon, former chief of the Wildlife Resources Division for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in the Philippines, for her critical role in strengthening wildlife law enforcement in the Philippines. De Leon created the country’s Wildlife Law Enforcement Manual of Operations, which provides the standards and protocols for law enforcement officials to implement the wildlife laws of the Philippines, along with spearheading the development of the Wildlife Law Enforcement Action Plan 2018-2028, which serves as a framework to combat illegal activities against wildlife in the Philippines.


  • PAMS Foundation and the late Wayne Lotter in Tanzania, for empowering individuals to protect wildlife and wild places. The foundation’s support for rangers and game scouts though anti-poaching training and aerial surveillance, and its collaboration with Tanzania’s National Task Force Anti-Poaching have significantly increased arrests and prosecutions of wildlife traffickers, including ivory trade kingpins “Shetani” Boniface Matthew Mariango and the “Queen of Ivory,” Yang Feng Glan. Lotter, one of PAMS’ co-founders and a prominent conservationist, was murdered in 2017 in Tanzania because of his anti-poaching efforts.
  • Anti-Smuggling Bureau of China Customs for coordinating recent groundbreaking, intelligence-driven investigations, in cooperation with other enforcement agencies and stakeholders. These efforts led to the arrest and prosecution of major wildlife traffickers, including key ivory traffickers and totoaba bladder smugglers.


  • 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 (being honored posthumously), former rangers at Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for making the ultimate sacrifice to protect wildlife. Wildlife rangers have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world as they pursue wildlife criminals in the city and in the field. Under often punishing conditions, rangers target those directly responsible for killing wildlife, along with the chain of people who pay, facilitate, authorize and ultimately profit from the crime. These 16 fallen rangers are among hundreds of wildlife law enforcement personnel across Africa who have lost their lives in the last three years in the line of duty.

Clark R. Bavin Wildlife Law Enforcement Award

Since 1997, 124 individuals and/or agencies from 38 countries have received the Clark R. Bavin Wildlife Law Enforcement Award, which is only given at CITES CoPs. This year, CITES Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero presented the award at a ceremony hosted by the Species Survival Network.

The award is named after the late chief of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement. Mr. Bavin substantially elevated the fight against wildlife crime in the United States and internationally, pioneering the use of covert investigations and sting operations to expose illegal wildlife trade and advocating for the use of forensic science to identify and prosecute wildlife criminals.

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