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Veteran anti-poaching ranger awarded top WWF honors

Anatoly Belov, a long-time Russian anti-poaching ranger working on the frontlines of protecting tigers has been awarded the 2010 WWF Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal. The medal was first given in 1970 and is awarded annually by WWF for outstanding service to the environment.

Belov, 48, has been active in anti-poaching activities in the Southwestern Primorsky province on the Russia-China border for 22 years. Belov’s efforts to fight poaching by detaining hundreds of poachers and confiscating dozens of weapons have helped the Amur tiger population grow from about 50 tigers 50 years ago, to about 500 today. These efforts came despite upheavals and changes in the government that saw his superiors replaced and without taking time off for holidays.

“This is a great honor that will truly support our work to save the magnificent Amur tiger,” Belov said. “I hope this award also inspires others to support the men and women around the world who risk their lives protecting wild tigers from poachers.”

The award ceremony for Belov provides momentum as world leaders prepare for an important meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia at the Tiger Summit later this month to agree on a global plan to double the number of tigers in the wild by the next Year of the Tiger in 2022.

“I am delighted that WWF has chosen to honor Mr. Belov with the award of The Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal for his tireless work to achieve the conservation of the seriously threatened Amur tiger,” said HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. “The efforts of Mr. Belov and his colleagues during the last 22 years to discourage the poaching of these animals in the Chinese-Russian border area have been crucial in the effort to save this species from extinction.”

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