He was one of the wildlife law enforcement champions from nine countries who were recognised with the Clark R. Bavin Wildlife Law Enforcement Award at the 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Presented by the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) which is a non-profit charitable organisation that was founded in 1951. AWI is an organisation dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people. This prestigious award recognises individuals, organisations, and agencies that have demonstrated excellence in combatting wildlife crime.
For the first time it has been awarded to a Zimbabwean, Deputy Chief Magistrate of Zimbabwe, Mr. Gibson Mandza, for his instrumental role in reforming wildlife prosecutions in Zimbabwe.
Mr. Mandaza has been and is leading efforts to pursue and prosecute wildlife criminals in Zimbabwe by establishing training courses so all magistrates under his jurisdiction are fully cognizant of wildlife crime. He has directed that he be informed of any wildlife court case in the country so that he can provide assistance, as necessary, to presiding magistrates. This has led to stricter sentences for wildlife crimes country-wide. His initial work on wildlife crime involved the illegal pangolin trade. In 2015 and 2016 alone, Mr. Mandaza oversaw 50 criminal cases related to the illegal pangolin trade, involving 110 accused criminals, 91 of whom have been convicted; 57 of these have been sentenced to prison or restitution, while 34 await sentencing.
â€œThrough stellar efforts to combat wildlife crime,â€ stated Cathy Liss, AWI president, â€œthese award recipients have demonstrated a dedication to wildlife protection, which should be an example to all who cherish the biodiversity on this planet and who are committed to justice against wildlife criminals who illegally capture and kill wildlife out of greed and callousness.â€
Since 1997, 96 individuals and/or agencies from 30 countries have received the Clark R. Bavin Wildlife Law Enforcement Award, which is only presented at a CITES CoPs. Nearly 40 individuals, including the 12 who were recognized this year, have received the award posthumously after they made the ultimate sacrifice to protect wildlife.
The award, presented at a reception hosted by the Species Survival Network during the CITES CoP, 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.
â€œWithout individuals and agencies, like those honored this year, willing to sacrifice their own lives to protect wildlife and enforce wildlife laws,â€ explained DJ Schubert, AWI wildlife biologist, â€œthe wildlife we all enjoy and benefit from would be wiped clean from our forests, fields, rivers, and oceans by wildlife criminals and criminal syndicates.â€
More information about the award and this yearâ€™s recipients can be found at https://awionline.org/content/2016-clark-r-bavin-awards.Post published in: Business