National Geographic

National Geographic/Buffett Awards

Awards for Leadership in Conservation

The annual National Geographic/Buffett Awards for Leadership in Conservation were established by the Society and The Howard G. Buffett Foundation to recognize and celebrate unsung heroes working in the field. Two awards are presented each year: one for achievement in Africa (established in 2002) and the other for achievement in Latin America (established in 2005).

Recipients of these awards have demonstrated outstanding leadership in managing and protecting the natural resources in their regions and countries. In addition, they are each inspirational conservation advocates who serve as role models and mentors.

Award recipients are chosen from nominations submitted to the Committee for Research and Exploration, which screens each nominee through a peer-review process. The awardees chosen each year are honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., and receive a one-time grant of $25,000 to support their ongoing work.

2018 Nominations Are Now Open

Thank you for your interest in the National Geographic/Buffett Awards for Leadership in Conservation. Nominations are now being accepted through January 8, 2018, for the 2018 awards. Winners will be announced in June. 

Submit a Nomination

View the list of previous awardees.

“The individuals that hold the front line for conservation often go unrecognized while making great personal sacrifices. This award was established to motivate and support these great conservationists.”

—Howard G. Buffett

Howard G. Buffett is president of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, which focuses on humanitarian and conservation issues. An agriculturalist, businessman, and widely published photographer, Buffett is also a member of the Commission on Presidential Debates, serves as a United Nations Ambassador Against Hunger for the United Nations World Food Program, and is a member of National Geographic's Council of Advisors.

2017 Awardees

Picture of Olivier Nsengimana
Photograph Courtesy Dr. Olivier Nsengimana

Dr. Olivier Nsengimana

Dr. Olivier Nsengimana is a Rwandan veterinarian who designed and implemented a unique conservation project to abolish the illegal trade of his country’s endangered grey crowned cranes.

Nsengimana has since established the Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association (RWCA), a nonprofit dedicated to expanding research and conservation projects connected to endangered or threatened species in Rwanda, including the grey crowned cranes.

Nsengimana received a master’s degree in veterinary sciences, conservation medicine from the University of Edinburgh and has completed a fieldbased course in animal health interventions. In 2016, he was a finalist for the Tusk Conservation Awards.

Picture of Rosamira Guillen
Photograph by Federico Pardo

Rosamira Guillen

Rosamira Guillen is a Colombian landscape architect and environmental designer-turned-conservationist. Guillen has a master’s degree in landscape architecture from the State University of New York in Syracuse, and was director of the Barranquilla Zoo in her hometown of Barranquilla, Colombia. There, she discovered cotton-top tamarins, a native native Colombian species that is critically endangered due to deforestation and the illegal pet trade.

Guillen’s team conducted awareness and education campaigns for zoo visitors and local schools to draw attention to the charismatic primate. Guillen is now executive director of Fundación Proyecto Tití, an organization she cofounded that is dedicated to the protection and conservation of the cotton-top tamarin.