The David Shepherd Conservation Award was launched in 2017 in memory of our Founder, David, to commend remarkable contributions to conservation. This year we’re celebrating ‘Conservation Champions’ around the world!

Our finalists are just a few of the incredible, unsung conservation champions working at David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) funded projects. They were nominated by their project, shortlisted by our panel of independent judges and then you voted and helped us choose the winner!

The ‘Conservation Champion’ 2019 will receive a specially designed award trophy plus an iconic David Shepherd print and their project will also receive £1,000, kindly supported by Helen Clifford in memory of her father who loved David’s work and was passionate about wildlife.

Here are the 2019 nominees:

Akbar Ward
Job title: Field Attendant
Organisation: Wildlife Trust of India (Kashmir Markhor Recovery Project)

Akbar sadly passed away earlier this year. A mountaineer, a keen observer and a hardcore supporter of conservation, Akbar played a vital role in generating
the first-ever baseline information about Markhor (species of mountain goat) in the landscape as part of the project team.

The Kashmir Markhor Recovery project team recognised his potential and willingness to go beyond his daily job responsibilities; he was able to determine the sex and age of the Markhor from distance, a skill that had no parallel. Akbar helped implement anti-poaching, firefighting and many other community-based conservation programs and as a fatherly figure, guided many budding researchers to shape their conservation projects.

From the nominator:
“Akbar made an indelible mark on the team and was gifted with phenomenal intellect and an amazing memory which remained razor-sharp til the end. His untimely death has created a gaping void in our hearts, and we will always remember him as a true defender of wildlife.”


Patrick Agaba
Job title: Project Manager
Organisation: Uganda Conservation Foundation (The Recovery of Murchison Falls project)

Patrick manages projects relating to critical conservation work, supporting the Uganda Wildlife Authority’s (UWA) frontline rangers. He sits with community members and
poacher groups to discuss how to resolve park/community problems, whether elephant crop raiding or reducing poaching. He is known for his ability to work with communities and government in perfect harmony.

UCF’s relationship with the Government is special, based on complete trust. Few across Africa have such a productive and friendly relationship and that is almost entirely due to Patrick. He has been key in turning poaching groups into park allies.

From the nominator:
“He is Mr Reliable, Mr Integrity and absolutely the reason why UCF has achieved so much, propelling Uganda’s conservation into a positive light. There is a reason why Murchison Falls is recovering so far – and most of it is because of the most loyal man I know.”

Eric Ash
Job title: ‘Surviving Together’ Programme Manager
Organisation: Freeland, Thailand

Eric’s work is beyond 9 to 5. He has been dedicated to tiger conservation since he started 6 years ago as an unpaid volunteer. Although his timesheet says 8 hours a day, his days often start at 7am
and end at midnight. When in the field on surveys, this can be up to 5 days and 4 nights in remote locations. His role is to gather, sort and catalogue data, export into data analysis software and explain to  government counterparts in the Department of National Parks. He then presents this in workshops and occasionally to the media. His role involves managing the field survey team, ensuring supplies are available and leading major surveys.

From the nominator:
“Eric stands out as he is so dedicated, working in arduous environments sometimes up to 18 hours a day. He shines as an amazingly hard worker, with excellent writing and analytical skills. Now completing his D.Phil in tiger-related research, he will be a major force for tiger conservation throughout his career.”


Last Marozhe
Job title: Mechanic
Organisation: Painted Dog Conservation (PDC), Zimbabwe

Last makes sure all the PDC vehicles are up and running and reliable for all-weather rescue missions.Day-to-day, he fixes vehicles and provides breakdown recoveries from the bush when researchers get stuck, but his role is not limited to mechanics; he plans vehicle maintenance, evaluates vehicles to add to the fleet and trains drivers to negotiate the different terrains.

He is meticulous with his work and makes sure no unnecessary breakdowns happen that could threaten the life of a painted dog and the safety of the PDC researchers. Last has saved PDC money through his ingenuity and experience and inspires young men and women. Last doesn’t often see the limelight as much as the researchers, but he makes things happen with good vehicle maintenance. His favourite phrase is: “No Land Rover, no painted dog.”

From the nominator: “Last is always in good spirits; it can be tough with vehicle damages coming in thick and fast but he’s committed to his work and anytime, any day, when called out in the bush to fix cars, it’ll be with a smile and a twinkle in his eye.”


Britius Munkombwe
Job title: Senior Community Outreach Officer
Organisation: Game Rangers International (GRI), Zambia

Britius’s role is to reduce wildlife crime by increasing conservation awareness and empowering the communities living alongside Kafue National Park in Zambia, educating on the ecological, economic and aesthetic value of wildlife.
As a child, Britius was diagnosed with polio and told he would never walk again; with sheer determination that still has today, he taught himself how to walk again and now, despite suffering from arthritis and a pronounced limp, travels hundreds of kilometres a week to empower and support vulnerable people.

Britius mentors 10 remote rural women’s groups with skills training, support and equipment and has empowered over 180 women to initiate sustainable income generation activities. He also presents GRI’s bi-weekly conservation-themed radio programme, Conservation Conversations, which reaches 75,000 listeners from 10 districts across Zambia.

From the nominator: “Britius faces the most heartrending circumstances with remarkable strength, and confronts wildlife crime by looking beyond the immediate, and challenging instead the deep-routed drivers and social catalysts.”