A Rwandan, Dr Olivier Nsengimana, has been shortlisted for the 2014 Rolex Awards for Enterprise.
Nsengimana is one of the two African finalists out of 22 in an award that recognises young pioneers who have demonstrated ability to solve society’s challenges in the areas of science, technology, exploration, environment and cultural heritage.
The award attracted over 1,800 applicants from 129 countries. The winners will be announced in June and honoured at a ceremony later this year. Nsengimana has been listed as a finalist for his efforts to save Rwanda’s grey-crowned crane, which is on the verge of extinction due to growing illegal trade.
Speaking to The New Times yesterday, Dr Nsengimana said he was motivated by the President’s call to the youth to come up with solutions to various challenges facing the country.
“I realised the need to take care of our bio-diversity. There are species that could disappear if nothing was done to save them,” he said.
The Kigali-based conservationist said there is concern across the world that the bird species may become extinct due to increasing illegal trade.
“The grey-crown crane is decreasing in number across the world mainly due to loss of habitat and illegal trade ,” Dr Nsengimana said.
He presented solutions with two approaches; one of them being to work with communities to build a data base and identify the location of the birds in captivity and later on negotiate with the ‘owners’ to surrender the species.
The second approach involves carrying out a national sensitisation campaign so that people can be enlightened about the need to conserve the species.
Dr Tony Mudakikwa, the head of the veterinary unit, research and monitoring of National parks at RDB said if Nsengimana wins the award, it will be a huge boost to the ongoing conservation efforts.
Louis Rugerinyange, the Chief Park Warden of Nyungwe National Park said the solutions presented by Dr Nsengimana were practical and would go a long way towards ensuring that the bird species is not extinct. If he emerges among the top five, Dr Nsengimana stands to receive 50,000 Swiss francs (about Rwf38.4m) to further his work, a Rolex chronometer and the benefits of an ongoing international publicity campaign. He will also have access to the network of more than 100 previous Laureates of the Rolex Awards.
The Rolex Awards for Enterprise and its sister programme, the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, comprise the two major international philanthropic programmes run by the Rolex Institute.
Both the Rolex Awards were designed to foster innovation and advance the work of young people.