The ZSL Conservationist of the Year Award is given to an individual who has achieved an outstanding conservation success during a 12-month period.
Alexander Rhodes is Managing Associate at Mishcon de Reya, an international law firm, and is a highly experienced litigator who has worked extensively in protected area management and international policy. He has significant experience in assisting investors and not-for-profit sectors engaged in sub-Saharan Africa with operational and reputational issues, including environmental matters.
Stop Ivory is an independent not-for-profit organisation committed to addressing the illegal international ivory trade and the decline of African elephants. As founding Chief Executive of Stop Ivory, Alexander made important and outstanding contributions to conservation through the delivery of the Elephant Protection Initiative (EPI). The EPI was originally launched by Botswana, Chad, Gabon, Ethiopia and Tanzania to implement the African Elephant Action Plan. Stop Ivory now supports 19 range states, all working together to protect Africa’s elephants, with delivery of specific objectives. These include maintaining the ban on international commercial trade in African elephant ivory (established by CITES in 1989), closing all domestic ivory markets (where they still exist), and developing and implementing National Elephant Action Plans.
Stop Ivory developed the legal procedures required for additional countries to join the EPI as signatories and for other organisations to pledge commitments. Working collaboratively to create an Inventory Protocol, Stop Ivory has also developed intuitive software technology for efficient data collection when conducting inventories and guidelines for the disposal of ivory stockpiles.
In 2015 alone, Alexander and his small but dedicated team provided technical support for the development of draft National Elephant Action Plans for Chad, Ethiopia and Gabon. Furthermore, they supported South Sudan, Ethiopia, Republic of Congo, Kenya, and the governments of Tanzania and Mozambique, to conduct stockpile inventories of ivory and rhino horn, culminating in the destruction of over 10 tonnes, with more disposals planned.
Given the historical difficulties and complex nature of Africa’s illegal wildlife trade, these successes – achieved in such a short space of time – are nothing short of remarkable and a testament to Alexander’s commitment to global conservation.
Stop Ivory has galvanized significant conservation benefits for African elephants, and Alexander has been instrumental in this. His skill in securing and developing strong partnerships has positioned Stop Ivory at the forefront of the conservation of illegally traded wildlife. This has been achieved through collaboratively supporting strong political will and leadership within African governments, providing valuable high-level legal, policy and political technicalities, and managing an international team conducting front-line work across Africa.
Alexander Rhodes works tirelessly on behalf of African elephants, with the aim of ending the poaching of ivory and ivory trafficking, while supporting elephant range states in their conservation and management efforts. We are delighted to present him with this award.