NAMIBIA’S renowned wildlife protector Simson !Uri-#Khob has received a lifetime achievement award in the United Kingdom for his outstanding dedication and exceptional contribution to conservation in Africa.
!Uri-#Khob, the chief executive officer of Save the Rhino Trust (SRT), was on Monday evening personally handed the Prince William Award for Conservation in Africa by the Duke of Cambridge at the 2021 Tusk Conservation Awards held in London.
“I am very happy. My wife is here with me and she is just as happy,” the 58-year-old !Uri-#Khob commented from London on Wednesday morning.
“It is not the first time I have an encounter with Prince William. This is the third time. Every time we meet is like the first time,” he said.
Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, launched the awards in 2013 in his role as royal patron of the Tusk Trust.
The trust supports forward-thinking and successful conservation intervention in Africa.
Tusk Trust works with successful local organisations, encouraging and enabling local African leadership, and supporting and nurturing their conservation programmes to accelerate growth from an innovative idea to a scalable solution.
!Uri-#Khob was born in Witvlei in the Omaheke Region.
He moved to Khorixas as a young mechanic to open a car workshop.
“A lady from Save the Rhino Trust asked for help and I managed to help fix her broken car,” !Uri-#Khob recalled.
“She then asked me to assist at the Save the Rhino Trust where I worked for 13 years before leaving for England to study conservancy biology.”
On his return to Namibia, he rejoined the SRT where he has served for the past 30 years, leading a team of 43 staff members and community rhino rangers from 13 conservancies, spanning an area of 25,000 km².
When !Uri-#Khob joined the SRT in the early 1990s, Namibia’s black rhino population, the only free ranging black rhino population in the world, was just back from the brink of almost complete decimation after a terrible drought and surge of poaching in the 1980s.
Namibia’s successful anti-poaching measures have been largely driven by local communities with support from SRT.
Today, rhino numbers have increased and conservancies are supported to employ locally-recruited rangers, provide education and health improvements and help for farmers.
“It is impossible not to feel his passion, commitment and honest, open heart for protecting his rhinos and ensuring his rangers are given the support they need and deserve,” Prince William said at the award ceremony.