A Kenyan conservationist has been named among the six winners of the 2012 ‘Champions of the Earth’ prize awarded by the United Nations Environment Programme.
Samson Parashina, chairman of the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust, has been honoured for spearheading his community’s efforts to conserve Kenya’s Tsavo-Amboseli ecosystem as well as his commitment to developing a sustainable green economy models at the Kuku group ranch, owned by the Maasai community.
He was honoured among prominent personalities including a president and top scientists.
The conservation trust he leads was singled out for its grassroots approach to conservation in Kenya.
Parashina, the son of a Maasai chief and who is also a tour guide, said the award “energized” him to push on with his work.
“This award means great things to me. It enables me to pursue the ideals that we stand for. The Maasai have lived for centuries and have adapted to a changing climate. We plan to create green jobs and protect the flora and fauna to create a future for the generation to come,” said Parashina.
Congratulating him, Kenya Tourism Board Managing Director Muriithi Ndegwa said the achievement is also a great honour for Kenya as a leading tourist destination in Africa.
“This is a great honour not only for Parashina but also for our nation. We applaud his contribution to the survival of this crucial resource that has boosted our performance as a sector. The Tsavo-Amboseli ecosystem is one of our key tourist attractions,” Muriithi said.
Parashina was nominated for the award by British actor Edward Norton, who serves on the board of MWCT and is also a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiversity.
Norton described him as a hero whose achievement is nothing short of inspirational. “The initiative Parashina spearheads is a truly authentic example of an indigenous community addressing the sustainability question within the context of deep commitment to traditional cultural values,” said Norton.
The other award winners were recognised for demonstrating commitment to building a sustainable future for the planet by championing green policies, groundbreaking clean energy developments and community work that has helped conserve critical ecosystems.
The winners include; President Tsakhia Eibegdori (Mongolia), Fabio C. Barbosa (Brazil), Dr Bertrand Piccard (Switzerland) and Dr Sander Van der Leeuw (Netherlands).
Parashina has been at the forefront in the quest to promote ecologically viable social, economic and cultural development in Kenya and the region.
A tireless conservationist, Parashina and his group have adopted a holistic approach to environmental conservation. Their approach seeks to create a Green Economy by protecting the environment and through sustainable development of natural resources to create jobs and wealth.
Launched in 1996, MWCT is the sole custodian of Campi ya Kanzi, regarded as one of the most unique and inspiring safari experiences in Africa.
Situated at the foot of the legendary Chyulu Hills, Campi ya Kanzi is a luxury camp combining the luxury of a five-star hotel luxury, first class wilderness adventure, and authentic immersion into Maasai culture. The camp was named by CNN as one of top ten luxury eco-lodges around the world.
MWCT also won the United Nations Development Programme’s “Equator Prize” this year, making it the world first conservation body to bag the two awards in the same year.