Veteran anti-poaching ranger awarded top WWF honours
Belov, 48, has been active in anti-poaching activities in Southwestern Primorsky province on the Russia-China border for 22 years, and his efforts have been crucial in protecting the endangered Amur tiger.
“This is a great honour that will truly support our work to save the magnificent Amur tiger,” Belov said. “I hope this award also inspires others to support the men and women around the world who risk their lives protecting wild tigers from poachers.”
Belov's actions helped to restore the Amur tiger population
Southwestern Primorsky province is one of the tiger’s main breeding grounds, and Belov’s efforts to fight poaching there have helped the Amur tiger population grow from about 50 tigers 50 years ago, to about 500 today. Poaching, and in turn the trade in tiger parts, are the main drivers of the dwindling number of wild tigers, which number fewer than 3,200 today.
“I am delighted that WWF has chosen to honour Mr. Belov with the award of The Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal for his tireless work to achieve the conservation of the seriously threatened Amur tiger,” said HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. “The efforts of Mr. Belov and his colleagues during the last 22 years to discourage the poaching of these animals in the Chinese-Russian border area have been crucial in the effort to save this species from extinction.”
Belov received the medal in a special ceremony at Windsor Castle.
Belov, a wildlife biologist, has led a team that has detained hundreds of poachers over the year, and confiscated dozens of weapons. These efforts came despite upheavals and changes in the government that saw his superiors replaced, and without taking any time off or holidays.
“The world, and the tiger, need more conservation champions like Anatoly Belov, whose determination, fearlessness, and hope are helping to save this magnificent species,” said Jim Leape, Director General of WWF International. “His tireless efforts to fight poaching – the main threat to tigers in the wild – should be an inspiration to all of us and speak to the power of one individual to make a difference.”
Belov’s award coincides with the Year of the Tiger in the Chinese lunar calendar and the International Year of Biodiversity. The ceremony comes as world leaders prepare to meet in St. Petersburg, Russia at the Tiger Summit, to agree to a global plan to double the number of tigers in the wild by the next Year of the Tiger in 2022.
What is the Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal?
The Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal was first given in 1970 and is awarded annually by WWF for outstanding service to the environment.
Recipients of the award receive a gold medal in a sustainably-sourced rosewood box donated by the Chamber of Mines of South Africa, a Rolex watch, and a certificate signed by the Duke of Edinburgh and the Director General of WWF International.
In 2002, Belov helped form the highly successful ‘Leopard’ interagency task force, also supported by WWF, which has helped protect the endangered Amur leopard.
He joins a long line of conservation leaders, including freshwater ecologist and visionary environmentalist Chen Yiyu, the 2009 winner.
The Awards Ceremony was sponsored by: CONINCO Explorers in finance