Zambian Education Officer wins Disney Conservation Hero Award

Zambian Education Officer, Sylvester Kampamba, has been honoured with a Conservation Hero Award from the Disney Conservation Fund in recognition of his achievements teaching Zambian school children to protect rhinos.

Sylvester Kampamba
Sylvester Kampamba with school kids visiting North Luangwa National Park. Photo: Patrick Eickemeier/FZS
The award recognises local citizens for their commitment to reversing the decline of wildlife and engaging communities in conservation. Recipients from around the world were nominated by non-profit environmental organisations, and each honoree and his or her nominating organisation will share a $1,500 award from the fund.

In the 1970s and 80s Zambia’s entire rhino population was poached; rhinos were officially declared extinct in 1998 after more than a decade without recorded sightings. Rhinos were reintroduced to Zambia in North Luangwa National Park by the Frankfurt Zoological Society’s North Luangwa Conservation Programme (NLCP) between 2003 and 2010. Animals were translocated from South Africa in what was then the biggest undertaking of its kind. Since the associated education programme began, the population has continued to grow and no rhinos have been poached in the region; bucking continental trends. (Across Africa, over 6,000 rhinos have been poached for their horns since the current poaching crisis began in 2006.)
Claire Lewis, Technical Advisor to the North Luangwa Conservation Programme Sylvester is a real role model to the children and this award is so well-deserved. Claire Lewis, Technical Advisor to the North Luangwa Conservation Programme
Sylvester first came to work for the NLCP in 1997 as a casual labourer in preparation for the rhinos’ arrival. It soon became apparent he had a natural affinity with children and that conservation was his passion. “Without Sylvester there wouldn’t be an education programme” explains Claire Lewis, Technical Advisor to NLCP. “He is from the area and speaks the language, and he remembered what inspired him when he was a kid still at school and so has been instrumental to our success. When the children come to visit, they see all the employment opportunities conservationists can bring. They can become rangers, or mechanics, or work in education. He’s a real role model to them and this award is so well-deserved.”
Through the Lolesha Luangwa conservation education programme, Sylvester teaches children aged 11-14, specifically targeted as they are old enough to both understand conservation messages and to actively pass them on to their family and community; creating a ripple effect of ownership and responsibility for the region’s natural resources. Save the Rhino International has funded Lolesha Luangwa since 2006 and nominated Sylvester for a 2016 Disney Conservation Hero award. Save the Rhino Director Cathy Dean says: “It’s hard to think of a more inspiring and engaging individual, who has made spreading the message about the importance of conserving black rhinos among the local community his personal mission, and who does so with such effectiveness and enthusiasm.”
The Disney Conservation Fund focuses on reversing the decline of wildlife and increasing the time kids spend in nature. Since 2004, Disney has honored more than 100 Conservation Heroes from around the world for their extraordinary conservation efforts.
For information on Disney’s commitment to conserve nature and a complete list of 2016 Conservation Hero Award recipients, visit

About Lolesha Luangwa

Lolesha Luangwa, meaning “Look after Luangwa” is a pioneering conservation education programme fast becoming a blueprint for youth engagement with conservation across Africa. Run by Frankfurt Zoological Society’s North Luangwa Conservation Programme (NLCP), each year, 1,400 pupils from 21 schools based around North Luangwa National Park’s boundaries are taught about rhinos and the importance of conservation. Lessons in the classroom and exposure visits via a three-day safari into the Park, where many see rhinos, elephants and other wildlife for the first time, enable them to learn about the benefits conservation brings.
Read more about Lolesha Luangwa

More about the North Luangwa Conservation Programme