one of the world's leading figures in rhino conservation - Raoul du Toit
Since 1986, Raoul du Toit has been instrumental in coordinating rhino conservation initiatives in Zimbabwe, working tirelessly through the turmoil and turbulence of Robert Mugabe’s dictatorship. Today he serves as the Africa Rhino Program Coordinator for the International Rhino Foundation, as well as Director of the Lowveld Rhino Trust, which focuses on protecting rhino populations in southern Zimbabwe. Working particularly in the Lowveld's Save and Bubye Valleys, the Trust aims to tackle the area's immediate conservation needs by monitoring, managing and protecting the area's black and white rhinos, as well as raisising awareness in local communities of the plight facing the endangered mammal.
Raoul and his staff also ensure the habitats they oversee are conducive to healthy rhino populations, advocating for correct land usage and working with stakeholders to do so. With effective conservation programmes having been limited on a state level, the Trust and its conservation partners - particularly private conservancies - now work together on the conservation of 80% of Zimbabwe's rhino population, and continue to safeguard the species in the face of threats from poaching and the unstable political situation in the country. Raoul also lends his expertise to rhino conservation efforts across Africa as a whole, mostly in Botswana, Zambia and South Africa.
Raoul was the recipient of the Sir Peter Scott Award for Conservation Merit in 2009 'in recognition of his exceptional efforts and successes in the field of African rhino conservation', which highlighted his contributions to rhino monitoring systems, community outreach programmes, improved law enforcement efforts and black rhino translocation projects. Raoul's vital conservation work also saw him awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2011, an honour which saw him travel to the White House to meet U.S. President Barack Obama.