Each year, the National Geographic Society recognizes and elevates people who are leading a new age of exploration through science, education, conservation, technology, and storytelling, via its Wayfinder Award. This year, three of the recipients hail from Africa: Resson Kantai Duff, Zoleka Filander and Gibbs Kuguru. These Explorers have proven themselves as the next generation of influential leaders, communicators, and innovators whose critical work demonstrates the power of science, and inspires us to learn about, care for, and protect our world. 

The recipients of the 2022 Wayfinder Award, previously called the Emerging Explorer Award, are engaged in groundbreaking work that challenges the most entrenched stereotypes in the animal kingdom, work that focuses on inclusive and community-based conservation, work that blends social justice with ecological scientific research, and work that promotes racial literacy in education. Furthermore, they are using new technology, research, photography, and impactful storytelling, among other techniques, to advocate for and protect the wonder of our world.

Resson Kantai Duff is the deputy director of Ewaso Lions, an organization dedicated to helping people and lions coexist in northern Kenya. Duff is passionate about decolonizing conservation and works to renew Kenyans’ sense of ownership over their wildlife, culture, and land. 

Zoleka Filander is a South African deep-sea researcher who identifies and documents seabed species in South Africa’s uncharted oceans. Her findings have contributed to assessments of South Africa’s biodiversity and ecosystem classification maps and helped lay the groundwork for the establishment of a network of offshore marine protected areas.

Gibbs Kuguru is a Kenyan scientist who studies the DNA of sharks. Kuguru is using his genetic research to better understand the unique DNA elements that shape the populations of sharks in the blue wilds of the world. He is a passionate communicator and has a multidisciplinary approach to shark conservation.

The Wayfinder Award recipients join the National Geographic Society’s global community of National Geographic Explorers and each receives a prize to continue conducting their work.

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