Ofir Drori is fighting corruption and wildlife crime in ten countries in West and Central Africa within the law enforcement and the judicial systems. He is the founder of LAGA (The Last Great Ape Organization), an NGO aiming not only to hunt down wildlife criminals in Cameroon, but also to ensure that these men and women are being sentenced. LAGA has brought the first-ever wildlife prosecution case in the whole of West and Central Africa. So far, Ofir and this team have put more than 1,500 wildlife traffickers behind bars. In 2017, LAGA’s innovative model has expanded into The EAGLE Network, which is operating in ten countries with a rate of one arrest and prosecution of a major wildlife trafficker per day.
Ofir Drori’s adventure started in the rainforest of central Africa, where he arrived as an adventurer and turned into an activist. He was roaming the continent, trying to make a difference. When he came in contact with the gorillas, he was inspired to write about the extinction of great apes as a journalist. His life changed in 2002, when he met a baby chimpanzee named Kita, that was being held by wildlife traffickers. He managed to save her, and get her trafficker in to jail. In fact, this was the first ever trafficker to be put into jail in all of central and west Africa.
Vision and Approach
During Ofir’s research on great apes he found out that in twenty years, the world was going to lose these magnificent species because the illegal trade in their meat and their infants. After his life changing encounter with Kita, Ofir founded LAGA (The Last Great Ape Organization). LAGA is an NGO aiming not only to hunt down wildlife criminals in Cameroon, but also to ensure that these men and women are being sentenced. In 2013, LAGA’s innovative model has expanded into the EAGLE network, a community of activists in the forefront of fighting wildlife crime in Africa. The EAGLE network is operating in ten countries with a rate of one arrest and prosecution of a major wildlife trafficker per day.
“Future For Nature combines a strong ideology and a unique approach in conservation: the idea that conservation should go back to values, that it is and should be personal. That passion matters. We need new approach, and conservation has to change. We all need to build a vibrant community of new-generation conservationists that encourages transformation.”Ofir Drori
Impact of the Future For Nature Award
- The Future For Nature Award contributed to getting more legitimacy to fight corruption inside conservation to protect endangered species. This legitimacy can be used to push African governments to work with them in partnerships and fight corruption in court, involve the police forces and fight to get those dealers behind bars.
- The financial support will help LAGA, and will help give the power to actually change things on the ground.
- The award gives a lot of legitimacy and credibility to LAGA’s way of work, the Future For Nature Award gives back-up to push LAGA’s approach even further and to create more acceptance.
"Ofir tackles the 'bad' guys; but he does so through legal channels. You can go only so far with soft approaches of awareness. At the end of the day, you have to be willing to stand firm and enforce the regulations. By being visibly anti-corruption, you place yourself in the firing line. Perhaps the real hero of this nomination is the chimpanzee 'Future' who turned Ofir's life around."Mr. John MacKinnon, International Selection Committee