In a landscape far removed from the dusty, sun baked savannah’s of northern Kenya, a Samburu man in full traditional dress, took his place on a glitzy stage in central London, watched by hundreds, to receive an award celebrating his outstanding contribution to his community, neighbouring communities, and the wildlife they share their land with.
The 2013 Tusk Conservation Award was presented to Tom Lalampaa on Thursday 12th September, when he was chosen as the winner, above five finalists, in the conservation field, by The Duke of Cambridge.
Tom is the Chief Programs Officer for the Northern Rangelands Trust, an umbrella organization based in northern Kenya, whose mission is to develop resilient community conservancies which transform people’s lives, secure peace and conserve natural resources.
Here is his story:
Born into the Samburu tribe, Tom Lalampaa could have ended up following the traditional pastoralist lifestyle of his people—had his brother made a different choice. When Tom was a child, his father called his sons to him and said “I’d like one of you to go to school and the other to remain here and help look after the cattle.” The decision fell to Tom’s brother, as the eldest. He opted for the cattle, and Tom was sent to school. Ultimately—with the support of the entire community—he went on to complete a BA in social work and an MBA in strategic management at the University of Nairobi.
As it turned out, his brother’s choice would end up changing not only Tom’s life but also that of the Samburu community and the land they call home. As Programs Officer for NRT, Tom is now a key player in efforts to protect Kenyan wildlife and improve the lives of his people and others who inhabit this beautiful but often unforgiving place.
Tom has broken barriers; come up with innovative solutions to the challenges faced by rural communities and their wildlife, and has never once failed to have a smile on his face. It is largely thanks to Tom that NRT is now widely recognised as the leading model for community conservation in Kenya – and increasingly across Africa. By raising funds for community conservancies, providing them with advice on managing their affairs, and engaging them in new and sustainable enterprises, NRT has had a proven impact on peace, livelihoods and conservation.