DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (November 28, 2017) – The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) announced today that Msafiri Mgumba of the WCS’s Ruaha-Katavi Landscape Program (WCS-RKLP) in Tanzania has been honored with a Conservation Hero Award from the Disney Conservation Fund. The award recognizes local citizens for their commitment to save wildlife, protect habitats and inspire their communities to take part in conservation efforts. Recipients from around the world were nominated by nonprofit environmental organizations, and each honoree and his or her nominating organization will share a $1,500 award from the fund.

Mgumba helps run Tanzania’s first vulture monitoring project, established in 2013, in collaboration with North Carolina Zoo. The monitoring project has confirmed that southern Tanzania provides a critical stronghold for four Critically Endangered/Endangered vulture species. A subsequent vulture movement study has further elaborated on this population’s use of the protected area network in southern Tanzania and beyond, revealing the longest known dispersal distance for a white-backed vulture via eight countries and over 2,000 km.

Monitoring has led to understanding more about the types and extent of threats to vultures, especially those linked to human-carnivore conflict and retaliatory poisoning, enabling targeted awareness raising activities in rural communities. Movement patterns have provided important information on carcass locations for WCS-supported anti-poaching efforts within the Protected area networks. Vultures encapsulate the WCS landscape-scale focus, and act as ecosystem health indicators, vital for waste removal and disease control, as well as acting as early warning systems to changes in poaching activity and poisoning incidences that impact other highly threatened species, such as elephants and lions.

Said Mgumba: "The WCS/NCZ vulture project has always been very rewarding to me in terms of skills and knowledge. I have felt, and continue to feel, privileged to work for vulture species conservation, especially as this is the first long-term vulture project to be conducted in Tanzania. The Disney Conservation Hero Award is a great honor to receive, which I will remember throughout my wildlife conservation career. I thank the Disney Conservation Fund for appreciating my contribution to conservation, and to WCS/NCZ for the nomination."

The Disney Conservation Fund focuses on supporting nonprofit organizations and their work to engage communities in the protection of wildlife and critical ecosystems across the globe. Since 2004, Disney has honored more than 120 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 2017 Conservation Hero Award recipients, visit Disney.com/Conservation.

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