Whitley Award 2024 Winners: activist heroes saving the world’s most fragile ecosystems

The 2024 Whitley Awards not only recognize nature conservation projects, but fund them with $61,800 for a year

The most promising nature conservation projects in the global south were honored at the 2024 Whitley Awards, an initiative by the British non-profit organization, Whitley Fund. These projects, emerging from humble beginnings, have proven their effectiveness and will be supported with a grant of approximately $61,800 for one year. Let’s take a look at the recipients of this recognition.

Purnima Devi Barman for the protection of the greater adjutant stork

Wildlife biologist Purnima Devi Barman received the prestigious Whitley Gold Award, which includes a grant of approximately $123,600, for her exceptional commitment to protecting the Greater Adjutant Stork. Since demonstrating her value in 2017, she continues her mission to raise awareness about these birds in the wetlands of Assam, India. Thanks to her cultural and educational efforts, the number of Greater Adjutant Storks has increased from just 450 to 1,800, with the ambitious goal of reaching 5,000 by 2030.

Leroy Ignacio for the protection of the Venezuelan Red Siskin

Leroy Ignacio earned a Whitley Award for his efforts in protecting the Venezuelan Red Siskin, threatened by fires and climate change in Guyana. He will use the funds received to establish a shared management plan over 370,658 acres (150,000 hectares), doubling the current protected area. This will not only preserve the habitat of the Venezuelan Red Siskin but also bring economic benefits to the involved indigenous communities.

Naomi Longa for the establishment of locally managed marine areas

Naomi Longa was honored for her remarkable work in establishing locally managed marine areas (LMMA) in Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea. These areas will enable the monitoring and conservation of coral reefs, ensuring a sustainable future for the region’s rich biodiversity.

Kuenzang Dorji for the protection of Gee’s Golden Langur in Bhutan

Kuenzang Dorji received recognition for his dedication to protecting Gee’s Golden Langur in Bhutan. His efforts focus on harmonious coexistence between local residents and these sacred monkeys, providing support and tools to protect crops without harming the animals.

Aristide Kamla for the biological control of Giant Salvinia

Aristide Kamla was awarded for his innovative work in the biological control of Giant Salvinia in Lake Ossa, Cameroon. His project uses a voracious beetle to reduce the spread of this invasive plant, thus helping to preserve the lake’s ecosystem and support local economic activities.

Raju Acharya for the protection of Owls in Nepal

Raju Acharya won the Whitley Award for his commitment to protecting owls in Nepal, a sacred animal threatened by illegal hunting and habitat loss. His action plan includes protecting ancient trees and installing artificial nests, along with educational programs to engage the community in biodiversity conservation.

Fernanda Abra for wildlife protection along BR-174 Highway in Brazil

Finally, Fernanda Abra was awarded for her “Reconnect” project aimed at protecting wildlife along the BR-174 highway in Brazil. In collaboration with the Waimiri-Atroari indigenous people, the project involves the installation of artificial bridges for primates, reducing the risk of vehicle collisions and ensuring the survival of animals in the Amazon forest.

Source: Whitley Award

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