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  • Photo: Paula Kahumbu

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Awards for Leadership in Conservation

The annual National Geographic Society/Buffett Awards for Leadership in Conservation were established by the Society and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation to recognize and celebrate unsung heroes working in the field. Awardees have demonstrated outstanding leadership in managing and protecting the natural resources in their countries and regions. They are each inspirational conservation advocates, who serve as role models and mentors. There are two awards presented each year: Africa (established in 2002) and Latin America (established in 2005).

The awardees are chosen from nominations submitted to the Committee for Research and Exploration, which screens them through a peer-review process. Each year’s recipients are honored at a ceremony in Washington D.C. and receive a one-time grant of $25,000 to support their ongoing work.

Howard Buffett is president of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, which focuses on humanitarian and conservation issues. An agriculturalist, businessman, and widely published photographer, Buffett is also a member of the Commission on Presidential Debates, serves as a United Nations Ambassador Against Hunger for the United Nations World Food Program and is a member of National Geographic's Council of Advisors.

Howard G. Buffett

  • Photo: Howard Buffett

    Celebrating Unsung Heroes

    "The individuals that hold the front line for conservation often go unrecognized while making great personal sacrifices. This award was established to motivate and support these great conservationists." -Howard G. Buffett

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2011 Buffett Awardees

  • Photo: Moi Enomenga

    Moi Enomenga, Ecuador

    Moi Vicente Enomenga Mantohue was born near Coca in the Ecuadorian Amazon just as his family and the Huaorani were first contacted by American missionaries. Some of the clans cultivated this contact, but Enomenga’s father decided to find a place that was isolated, where he could continue to hunt, fish, work on his land, and see his children learn about traditional life in the forest.

  • Photo: Paula Kahumbu

    Paula Kahumbu, Kenya

    Paula Kahumbu brims with energy and passion for preserving threatened wildlife and habitats. She has also discovered another frequently endangered species: conservationists themselves.

2010 Buffett Awardees

  • Photo: Vitor Becker and Clemira Souza

    Vitor Osmar Becker & Clemira Ordoñez Souza, Brazil

    Vitor O. Becker was born to a family of small farmers in the town of Brusque in southern Brazil. He had an early love of nature and insects, and studied agronomy and forestry, receiving his Ph.D. in entomology. Becker focused on the study of Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), becoming an expert on the subject. Clemira Souza, a schoolteacher, met Becker in 1968, when he was working at the Instituto Biológico in São Paulo. They married the following year.

  • Photo: John Makombo

    John Makombo, Uganda

    John Makombo was born and raised in western Uganda. At an early age he developed a passion for conservation. He studied environmental science at university before joining the Ugandan Wildlife Authority. Starting as park warden, Makombo has steadily climbed the ranks and is now Chief Conservation Area Manager for all of the protected areas and wildlife reserves in Uganda.

2008 Buffett Awardees

  • Photo: Fatima Jama Jibrell

    Fatima Jama Jibrell, Somalia

    Fatima Jibrell, one of Somalia’s preeminent environmental activists, is the founder of Horn Relief, an African-led nonprofit organization established in 1991 in response to Somalia’s devastating humanitarian crisis and civil war. The organization mobilizes local and international resources to protect the fragile pastoral environment in Somalia.

  • Photo: Dgkleiman Rambaldi

    Denise Marçal Rambaldi, Brazil

    Brazilian conservationist Denise Rambaldi is executive director of the Golden Lion Tamarin Association. She has achieved remarkable success in pulling back from the brink of extinction this highly endangered primate species that lives in the Atlantic Forest, one of the world’s most critically endangered biodiversity hotspots.

2007 Buffett Awardees

  • Photo: Jorge Orejuela

    Jorge Orejuela, Colombia

    Over the past 30 years, Dr. Jorge Orejuela has been an educator and conservationist in Colombia. He is currently the director of the Cali Botanical Garden and a professor in the environmental sciences department at the Universidad Autónoma de Occidente, but his work extends throughout the neo-tropics. Trained as an ornithologist, his research includes species as varied as orchids, spectacled bears, and bats.

  • Photo: Bila Isia Inogwabini

    Inogwabini Bila-Isia, Democratic Republic of Congo

    Inogwabini Bila-Isia is based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where he works for World Wildlife Fund as the Lac Tumba project manager. He conducts field research, helps local groups with natural resource management, and is working on a long-term biodiversity conservation program.

2006 Buffett Awardees

  • Photo: Jamie Incer

    Jaime Incer, Nicaragua

    Dr. Jaime Incer is regarded by many as the founder and leading figure of conservation efforts in Nicaragua. Over a distinguished career in academia and government and nongovernmental organizations, Incer has developed curricula and schools in the natural sciences, established national parks and other protected areas, and inspired a new generation of conservationists and life scientists in Nicaragua and throughout Central America

  • Photo: Zephaniah Phiri Maseko

    Zephaniah Phiri Maseko, Zimbabwe

    For over 40 years Zephaniah Phiri Maseko has lived, farmed, and raised a family in one of the most arid and resource-poor lands in southern Africa, Zimbabwe’s Zvishavane District. Through his own ingenuity and despite political challenges, he has devised and propagated irrigation practices that have enabled subsistence farmers on marginal lands to prosper as they conserve scarce resources and practice sustainable farming.

2005-2002 Awardees

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