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ZEISS GROUP SPONSORS ANNUAL RHINO CONSERVATION AWARDS
Source: Carl Zeiss Sports Optics press release

North Chesterfield, Virginia - Carl Zeiss Sports Optics, the world's leading manufacturer in high performance sports optics, is pleased to announce that Carl Zeiss Sports Optics GmbH of the ZEISS Group will sponsor the annual Rhino Conservation Awards. Since 2012 the annual Rhino Conservation Awards have served to recognize the remarkable individuals and organizations that protect Africa's rhino population.

"Our products are made for the observation of nature's miracles, therefore it is our natural interest to conserve those miracles," says Dr Winfried Scherle, Chief Executive Officer of Carl Zeiss Sports Optics. Environmental responsibility is of key importance and ZEISS has nurtured this as a tradition within the Group. "As a company operating under the umbrella of the Carl Zeiss Foundation, the ZEISS Group has been implementing social responsibility principles for over 125 years."

The ZEISS Group has indicated its intention to maintain its sponsorship of the Awards. "We are very excited about our future association with the Awards," says Dr Simone Zaha, Head of Marketing at Carl Zeiss Sports Optics GmbH. While the South African ZEISS office has been involved informally in rhino conservation for the last three years, the Group as a whole has now made the decision to take structured action against poaching, committing to play an active role in Rhino Conservation. It is hoped that we can assist in creating more awareness about the plight of the rhino on a regional and global scale!"

Carl Zeiss joins the existing sponsor, Ms Xiaoyang Yu, Founder Partner of China New Enterprise Investment (CNEI), a China focused growth capital fund, and one of the originators of the Awards. Founder of the Awards, Dr Larry Hansen, humbly thanks the ZEISS Group for its support, adding that its international footprint will dramatically improve the reach of the Awards as nature conservation is a global issue. "Protecting species and their natural environments must become a universal goal."

In 2014, the stature of the Awards was confirmed as His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco accepted the position of Patron of the Rhino Conservation Initiative and the Rhino Conservation Awards. HSH Prince Albert is committed to the protection of species dangerously close to extinction, through the support of his Foundation to various preservation projects. It is hoped that this patronage will encourage international publicity and lead to the reduction of rhino poaching.

The Awards are held in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Affairs of South Africa and the Game Rangers' Association of Africa (GRAA) - a non-profit organization with a membership of over 1500 across Africa, many of whom are rangers active in anti-poaching activities. The GRAA is dedicated to the protection, conservation and restoration of Africa's biodiversity and wilderness for the benefit of present and future generations.

The Rhino Conservation Awards 2015 are to be held on the 27th of July and will be attended by its sponsors' representatives, international guests and diplomats, members of the Department of Environmental Affairs, the South African National Parks Board, media, sponsors and organizations and individuals involved in rhino conservation.

No matter how small the contribution, every effort to conserve nature should be commended. "It is always worth it to change the status quo for the future of our planet," concludes Scherle. "Every person that is committed to nature conservation should be awarded."