The 25th Anniversary Whitley Awards Ceremony was held on 25 April 2018 at the Royal Geographical Society in London. The flagship event of UK-based charity, the Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN), was hosted by wildlife presenter and WFN ambassador Kate Humble. The evening saw six conservation leaders from six different countries receive Whitley Awards worth GBP 40,000 each in project funding over 1 year in support of their work.
In addition, the prestigious Whitley Gold Award worth GBP 60,000 was presented to 2010 Whitley Award winner Pablo Borboroglu of the Global Penguin Society, Argentina, for his work to conserve penguins and their habitat throughout the Southern Hemisphere. Over 500 people attended the event, where the charity's patron, HRH The Princess Royal, presented the Awards.
The 2018 Whitley Award Winners are: Dominique Bikaba, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Ensuring the survival of DRC's eastern lowland gorillas); Kerstin Forsberg, Peru (Majestic giants: safe passage for manta rays in Peru and Ecuador); Olivier Nsengimana, Rwanda (Conserving Rwanda's emblematic grey crowned crane): Shahriar Caesar Rahman, Bangladesh (Tortoises in trouble: community conservation of Asia's largest tortoise); Munir Virani, Kenya (Game of poisons: a strategy to save Kenya's threatened vultures); Anjali Chandraraj Watson, Sri Lanka (Leopards as a flagship for wildlife corridors).
Over its 25 years, the charity has given almost GBP 15 million in conservation funding to more than 190 conservation leaders in over 80 countries. The Whitley Award was one of the first awards to be given in recognition of effective conservation leadership in the Global South. Twenty-five years on, the need for recognition of grassroots leadership has never been stronger. The Fund supports emergent conservation leaders who are nationals of the countries where they work, making them best placed to lead change and articulate solutions. Through them WFN supports work rooted in community involvement that is pragmatic, science-based, and has lasting impact.
Change doesn't happen overnight and WFN's commitment to conservation leaders is long term. Winners benefit from membership of a global network of Whitley Award alumni, and are able to apply for WFN Continuation Funding to scale up their work and bring about positive change for threatened species and local communities. Over 60% of Whitley Award winners go on to win Continuation Funding grants, worth up to GBP 70,000 over 2 years. Depending on fundraising, WFN seek to award GBP 700,000 in Continuation Funding each year. Many winners become some of the most influential conservationists in their field, their projects making a difference from the grassroots to the national and international level.
To mark its 25th Anniversary, WFN has partnered with consultant, Brittany Sawrey and Professor E.J. Milner-Gulland at Oxford University to undertake an independent Impact Assessment of its winners over the past 25 years. The results of this assessment will be published in Autumn 2018.
For more information on the Whitley Fund for Nature, the Whitley Awards and to view short films about each of the winning projects, see http://www.whitleyaward.org. See p. 583 for the call for applications for the 2019 Whitley Awards.