On Wednesday this week some of the biggest names in wildlife conservation attended the Tusk Conservation Awards at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The annual awards, now in their fourth year, recognise the African conservation heroes that dedicate their lives to protecting wildlife on their wonderful continent.

This year, John Kahekwa, the founder of a Congolese Gorilla Conservation organisation – the Pole Pole Foundation, which is a project partner for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Research project within the Marjan Centre for the Study of War and the Non-human Sphere, part of the War Studies department – has been awarded the highly prestigious Prince William Lifetime Award.

The award, presented by HRH Prince William and Sir David Attenborough, is one of the most prestigious conservation awards in the world and marks the fantastic work of John and the Pole Pole Foundation to secure the future for the Grauer’s Gorillas in the DRC.

John’s work has made a significant contribution to the Marjan Centre’s research for the last four years, providing a central case study for research and teaching as well as expert input into articles published by the centre and workshops attended by staff. John was awarded the Marjan-Marsh Award in 2012, an award for outstanding conservationists working in regions of conflict awarded by King’s in partnership with the Marsh Christian Trust.

John Kahekwa, director of the Pole Pole Foundation said,

“I am hugely honoured to receive the Tusk Lifetime Acheivement Award, and that a spotlight has been placed on our work with the gorillas in DR Congo. The award comes at a critical time, as these fantastic creatures have just been classified as critically endangered. Working as a project partner with King’s Marjan Centre for the Study of War andUNSDG #15 the Non-human Sphere has helped raise the profile of my wonderful country the DRC and also the innovative approach my foundation take to the conservation of gorillas.”

Richard Milburn, Sustainability projects assistant at King’s and the UK Representative of the Pole Pole Foundation said,

“This award provides the recognition John deserves for his phenomenal work in one of the most challenging regions of the world. John has worked to help communities and protect gorillas even during a horrific conflict that claimed the lives of 5 million Congolese people. He is an inspiration for us all, and it is a source of immense pride that we have links between John and King’s.”

Richard Milburn, Sustainability Projects Assistant