Posted on the 26th May 2014

(This article first appeared in the BirdLife South Africa E-newsletter in May 2014. - Ed.)
In April, three young conservationists headed to the Netherlands to receive the Future for Nature Award 2014. One of the three was South Africa’s Bronwyn Maree, who leads the acclaimed Albatross Task Force that undertakes work to prevent unnecessary deaths of seabirds during fishing operations. Bronwyn was selected from a total of 126 applicants from 58 countries to be one of the lucky recipients of this prestigious international award, which carries a purse of €50 000 for each winner.
The Future for Nature (FFN) Foundation has recognised the role Bronwyn has played over the past six years in conserving our seabirds. Through this annual award, FFN supports young, talented and ambitious conservationists working to protect endangered species. The Future for Nature Award encourages individuals to become conservation leaders and opens doors to an international network of dedicated conservationists who are able to provide learning support, mentoring and financial assistance.
Bronwyn joined fellow recipients Caleb Ofori Boateng from Ghana and American-Egyptian Leela Hazzah in the Netherlands to accept their awards. Caleb is committed to protecting the critically endangered Togo slippery frog through a unique approach in which he combines religion and conservation to inform people about the frog’s role in the ecosystem and the necessity of protecting it. Leela works with the Maasai in Kenya to protect lions instead of killing them.
The guest speaker, Dr Iain Douglas-Hamilton, presented the keynote address and the prizes to the winners after the recipients delivered their inspirational addresses to the 500-strong crowd. This was followed by a lunch where the winners mingled with the guests. One of the highlights was a young man who approached Bronwyn and wanted any advice that would allow him to one day reach his dream to stand on the stage as one of the future winners. It really was the ‘Oscars’ event for conservationists, where major success stories were shared, friendships were built and where no one left uninspired.
‘This will remain a highlight within my career and a day I will not easily forget – the best part is that conservation is being achieved and used to motivate the next generation to continue the fight!’ says Bronwyn.


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