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Bid to rescue rare bird earns student award

A student’s mission to save an endangered bird in Africa has been recognised with a prestigious award.

Wildlife conservation student Olivier Nsengimana - a distance learner at the University of Edinburgh - has received a Rolex Award for Enterprise for his work to save Rwanda’s grey crowned crane.

Olivier is currently studying for a Masters in Conservation Medicine at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies.

This is well-deserved recognition for Olivier and we wish him every success with this important mission.

Professor Anna MeredithConservation Medicine Programme Director, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

Endangered bird

The grey crowned crane is a symbol of wealth and longevity in Rwanda and is fast dying out because of illegal poaching and its status as a desirable pet. There are thought to be fewer than 500 of the endangered birds remaining in the wild in Rwanda.

Rwanda's challenge

Olivier hopes to tackle the problem by establishing a national database of grey crowned cranes in Rwanda, listing all those in captivity. He is setting up an amnesty programme to encourage those keeping the birds as pets to take them to a rehabilitation centre, from where they can be released into the wild.

The project will promote breeding programmes and also aims to stop the birds being poached by educating people about endangered species.

Inspiring the next generation

Olivier hopes the project will help to foster a younger generation of conservationists.

I want to train young veterinarians to help with this project and take ownership of conservation projects, and, so far, the response has been extremely positive.

Olivier Nsengimana

Rolex Awards

Olivier is among five young visionaries - all aged 30 and under - to receive the 2014 Rolex Award for Enterprise. The awards recognise enterprising men and women who are using their talents and initiative to change the world.

Related Links

Rolex Awards for Enterprise

MVetSci Conservation Medicine

Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies