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Tomas Diagne

Tomas Diagne

2017 Marine Conservation Action Fund (MCAF) Fellow
Founder, Director, African Chelonian Institute Senegal


Tomas Diagne has been working to save threatened and endangered turtle species in Senegal for more than 20 years. He began rescuing endangered African spurred tortoises (Geochelone sulcata) as a teenager, and in 1992 he created S.O.S. (Save Our Sulcatas), a nonprofit organization. He co-founded and built a tortoise sanctuary in Rufisque, Senegal, a sanctuary and captive breeding facility for sulcata tortoises that now houses more than 300 individuals and has reintroduced numerous others back to the wild.

In 2009 he began building the African Chelonian Institute (ACI) project in order to expand turtle research, captive breeding, and reintroduction to all threatened African turtle species. Tomas is actively involved in freshwater and marine turtle research throughout Africa, including both field research projects and captive reproduction of threatened freshwater and tortoise species in order to return them to the wild.

Tomas is the regional vice chair for Africa for the marine turtle specialist and the tortoise and freshwater turtle specialist group and an expert consultant of the UNEP/CMS MoU for conservation of sea turtles in Atlantic Coast of Africa (office based in Dakar). He was also awarded a prestigious Rolex Award for Enterprise in 1998. In addition, Tomas speaks five languages.

Learn more about African Chelonian Institute.


Sea Turtles, Conservation Leadership, Social Media, Public Speaking, Conservation in Developing Countries, Advocacy, Education


2019 Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa
2019 National Geographic Buffett Award for Leadership in Conservation
1998 Associate Rolex Laureate


Learn More About Tomas and His Work


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