The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has named Mishcon de Reya Managing Associate Alexander Rhodes its Conservationist of the Year for his work to protect African elephants and stop the ivory trade. In 2013, Alexander established independent NGO Stop Ivory to support five African countries to launch the Elephant Protection Initiative (EPI).
On Tuesday 13 November, the House of Lords heard the third reading of the UK Ivory Bill, which is expected to come into force this year.
This award recognises in particular the importance of technical and strategic legal work in tackling the challenges associated with stopping the ivory trade, including law enforcement and legislative change.
The price of ivory is continuing to fall on international markets. Importantly, China – one of the world's biggest markets for ivory – and the US have introduced bans on their domestic ivory markets.
Following the IWT Conference, IWT was cited as a financial crime and, to help to put an end to it, The Mansion House Declaration was signed on October 10th 2018 by 30 financial organisations and global banks. The declaration stated that they “will not knowingly facilitate or tolerate financial flows that are derived from IWT and associated corruption”.
On presenting Alex with this award, Secretary of ZSL Professor Geoff Boxshall, said:
"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."
Commenting on receiving the award, Alexander said:
"We are beginning to recognise the awesome responsibility we all have as custodians of this planet and all life that we share it with.
"This award recognises that dramatic change can be achieved when people come together behind a shared appreciation of the value of wildlife. I am honoured to receive it on behalf of my colleagues and everyone else who continues to work tirelessly for a future for these great giants of Africa alongside local communities.
"I would like especially to thank Mishcon de Reya for the significant support it continues to give me and this initiative and Kieron Beale QC and Penelope Nevill for their invaluable work."