Disney Conservation Heroes Honored for Efforts to Protect Wildlife and Habitats

Dedicated people around the world make strides every day to protect our planet. They commit their lives to conservation and share their passion with their communities.

Today, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund is recognizing 14 of these inspiring individuals with this year’s Disney Conservation Hero award. Each recipient was nominated by a nonprofit and will share a $1,500 award with their nominating organization. Since 2004, Disney has honored 85 leaders. Meet this year’s heroes!

  • Nomusa Zikhali started Nkomo Primary school in 1997, teaching children under a tree. Now, with 17 classrooms, she maintains a focus on conservation, connecting students with nature at a nearby reserve and integrating conservation concepts into the curriculum.
  • Roma works with the Alliance for Tompotika Conservation in Indonesia, organizing villagers to help protect species including sea turtles, bats and the endangered maleo bird.
  • Elvis Kisimir and his team are first responders to reports of big cat-livestock conflicts in Tanzania. He helps manage 220 “Living Walls,” which consist of chain-linked fencing and live trees as a sustainable and effective predator control option.
  • Sboniso Mazolo is a community conservation liaison for the Wildlife ACT Fund Trust and co-founded an organization in KwaZulu-Natal Province to create community-based conservation jobs.
  • Gebhardt Nikanor has touched more than 100,000 lives through Cheetah Conservation Fund Center’s educational programs. He also works to place Anatolian shepherd and Kangal puppies with farmers to protect livestock.
  • The three-person Mosquito Lagoon Oyster Restoration Team has led more than 35,000 volunteers to restore oyster reefs in Florida that improve water quality and help protect wildlife and shorelines. They’ve deployed 31,856 “oyster mats,” restoring reefs by providing a site for oyster larvae to grow.
  • Jim Moir has dedicated 12 years as a member of the Marine Resources Council of East Florida. He and teams of volunteers report whale-sighting data to the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium Database. He’s also worked on large-scale shoreline restoration projects to protect critical bird and fish habitat.
  • Silver James Birungi is an educator for Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust in Uganda. He is a driving force behind efforts to stop the selling and killing of chimpanzees. His message has already reached more than 11,600 students and nearly 8,000 community members.
  • Ayubu Msago is a community leader with Tanzania’s Ruaha Carnivore Project. He aided in constructing 50 predator-proof corrals, and not a single head of livestock has been lost since his efforts began. He’s also engaged more than 10,000 people through local wildlife DVD nights.
  • Damber Bista is committed to conserving wild red pandas and their habitat through the education and empowerment of local communities in Nepal.  He has helped establish a network of community members for the conservation of the red panda and has reached hundreds of villages through awareness workshops.
  • Peter Lalampaa played a critical role in the early development of the Grevy’s Zebra Trust. Since then, his programs have enabled Grevy’s zebras to be monitored and protected in Kenya. Lalampaa is a respected ambassador for engaging communities in activities that make a difference for their land and for their families’ future.
  • Felix Medina’s passion for wildlife led him to become involved in primate research and conservation. For 25 years, he has worked with Proyecto Tití to conserve the critically endangered cotton-top tamarin in Colombia.
  • Jairo Mora-Sandoval monitored Moin Beach, Costa Rica, where he was responsible for protecting leatherback sea turtle nests and thousands of baby sea turtles. This past spring, while patrolling Moin Beach, Mr. Moro-Sandoval lost his life protecting sea turtle nests. This award will be presented to his family.
  • Monica Torres rediscovered the Abronia campbelli lizard as an undergraduate student in Guatemala. The species was thought to be extinct and is feared by local people. She created Project Abronia, a conservation effort that combines habitat conservation, and landowner and community education to protect this lizard.

Congratulations to all of this year’s Disney Conservation Heroes! Click here for more information.