Ofir Drori - Israeli-born photojournalist, educator and anti-wildlife crime activist - has been awarded the prestigious WWF Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal* for 2012. Describing the award as "a great honour", Ofir said: “I hope this award also inspires a shift to a more activist approach and bolsters the fight against corruption in our quest to save wildlife - while there are still magnificent elephants and other animals left to save.”
A tireless anti-corruption whistleblower and law enforcement activist, 36-year-old Ofir Drori works on the frontlines of endangered wildlife protection in West and Central Africa.
Within seven months, Ofir and LAGA had brought about Cameroon’s first wildlife crime prosecution, providing a model that is now being replicated in West and Central Africa.
He's also founder-director of the Central Africa Wildlife Law Enforcement Network.
Ofir received the award at Buckingham Palace on 22 October 2012, with HRH the Duke of Edinburgh himself in attendance, along with WWF director general Jim Leape.
Watch a great short video interview with award-winner Ofir Drori...
WWF director general Jim Leape says: "It's thanks to people like Ofir Drori that we still have a hope of keeping vulnerable elephant and other wildlife populations thriving - and keeping a spotlight on the poaching crisis that threatens them. I applaud his bold and impactful work.
“WWF urges world governments to crack down on wildlife poaching and illegal trade as a matter of urgency.”
Promoting wildlife law enforcement by combating corruption at all levels, LAGA enabled a shift in Cameroon’s judicial system, resulting in arrests and prosecution of major wildlife criminals. The LAGA anti-corruption success story has been replicated in West and Central Africa in activities that go beyond nature conservation to the defence of human rights.
Wildlife poaching and organised criminal trade in wildlife have escalated dramatically in recent years and are now the greatest threat to many of WWF’s flagship species.
WWF is actively working with countries where there's poaching, smuggling or consumer demand for illegal wildlife products. To end wildlife crime we need those countries to strengthen law enforcement, combat corruption, get illegal wildlife trade recognised as a serious crime, and reduce demand for endangered species products.
Ofir Drori’s efforts have resulted in hundreds of arrests and prosecutions across West and Central Africa, and helped propagate a zero tolerance approach to illegal wildlife trafficking in Cameroon.
*The Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal was first given in 1970 and is awarded annually by WWF for outstanding service to the environment.
Ofir Drori joins a long line of conservation leaders to receive the award - including the 2011 winner, Dr Ashok Khosla, one of the world’s foremost sustainable development experts.