On Thursday 10 December, Game Rangers International (GRI) hosted a celebration to honour the achievements of Cosmas Mumba, the Project Manager of GRI – Zambia Primate Project. As the first ever Zambian, Cosmas was recently nominated to the prestigious Tusk Conservation Award, supported by HRH Prince William. Cosmas attended the glittering award ceremony in London in November, and had the honour of meeting Prince William prior to the ceremony and tell him about his project.

ZPP is one of Africa’s most established and successful primate release programmes. Managed by Game Rangers International and with the ongoing support of the Born Free Foundation, its mission is to rescue and rehabilitate injured, orphaned and illegally held vervet monkeys and yellow baboons for release back into the wild in Zambia. Primate survival rate 12 months post-release currently averages a remarkable 95%.

The celebration, which took place at the Retreat in Roma, Lusaka, and was kindly sponsored by Komatsu, was attended by a variety of stakeholders within Zambian conservation. The Guest of Honour was Ms Georgina Kakumbi, Head of Zambia Wildlife Authority’s Intelligence and Investigation Unit (ZAWA IIU).

In her speech, she highlighted the importance of this nomination:

“Cosmas’ nomination is not only a well-deserved recognition of his project, the GRI – Zambia Primate Project. It is also a reminder to the international conservation community of the conservation efforts that are taking place here in Zambia (…) The nomination highlights that committed and passionate individuals can make a difference and will hopefully inspire more young people in Zambia to get involved in the preservation of this country’s unique wildlife.”

Cosmas shared with the audience the presentation he delivered during the award ceremony, and highlighted the main aspects of ZPP’s mission: rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing illegally held primates back into the wild. He also shared his thoughts on the nomination: “Growing up in a rural Zambian village I never dreamed that one day I would be meeting the future King of England to talk about my work rescuing primates in Zambia. Things like this don’t happen to people like me I thought. Being a finalist in the Tusk Conservation Awards 2015 is really humbling and will raise awareness of the bushmeat and illegal pet trades in primates in Africa.”

The evening was a great celebration of a true Zambian conservation hero and a reminder of the importance of dedicated individuals such as Cosmas.

Ulrica Hansson, Fundraising and PR Manager Game Rangers International