Award Celebrates Outstanding Achievements of Animal Conservationists Whose Work Spans the Globe
The six finalists for the Indianapolis Prize, the world's leading award for animal conservation, were announced today. Selected from a pool of 29 nominees, the finalists are Gerardo Ceballos, Ph.D., Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Ph.D., Rodney Jackson, Ph.D., Laurie Marker, D.Phil., Carl Safina, Ph.D. and Amanda Vincent, Ph.D. These heroes of animal conservation were nominated by their peers and chosen for their outstanding achievements on behalf of endangered or at-risk species across the globe.
"The passion and energy of these six finalists are the essence of the Indianapolis Prize. Their ability to connect conservation with the community has established hope for all species, including us," said Indianapolis Prize Chair Myrta Pulliam.
The Prize Jury will determine the winner for the 2010 Indianapolis Prize. In addition to receiving the $100,000 Prize, the recipient is also awarded the Lilly Medal, an original work of art that signifies the winner's contributions to conserving some of the world's most threatened animals. The Prize will be awarded at the Indianapolis Prize Gala presented by Cummins Inc., September 25, 2010, at The Westin Hotel in downtown Indianapolis. The 2008 Indianapolis Prize was awarded to legendary field biologist George Schaller, Ph.D. Schaller's accomplishments span decades and continents, bringing fresh focus to the plight of several endangered species – from tigers in India to gorillas in Rwanda – and inspiring others to join the crusade.
ABOUT THE FINALISTS
Gerardo Ceballos, Ph.D.: (National Autonomous University of Mexico)
A leader in designing conservation strategies for endangered species and threatened ecosystems, Gerardo Ceballos established the first land easement in Mexico and led the first scientific group to publish the patterns of distributions for all 5,000 mammals of the world. His work has begun to redefine global conservation priorities.
"Ceballos has not only focused on protecting a special group of animals or a special habitat, but also contributed to generating principles that help protect all animals in the wild," said Paul R. Ehrlich, president of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University. "I cannot imagine someone more deserving of the Indianapolis Prize."
Ceballos has developed successful conservation strategies for endangered species such as the black-footed ferret (the most endangered mammal in North America), black-tailed prairie dog, jaguar and flying squirrel, among others. He is currently coordinating a number of revolutionary studies including the first jaguar census in a complete country in the world, the conservation of the largest prairie dog complex on Earth, and the creation of a half-million hectare grassland reserve (nearly 2,000 square miles).
Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Ph.D.: (Save the Elephants)
As president and CEO of Save the Elephants, Douglas-Hamilton has been recognized for his relentless protection and preservation of the African elephant. He led anti-poaching aid Finalists for the 2010 Indianapolis Prize programs in Africa and continues to sound the alarm about poaching threats spurred by a renewed demand for ivory. His pioneering Global Positioning System (GPS) elephant tracking, widely emulated in Africa and Asia, has become a model survey technique. He recently partnered with Google Earth to show elephant movement in real time via satellite images.
"Iain has inspired scientists, conservationists, local communities and ordinary citizens alike to work toward a secure future for elephants and the biodiversity of the world," said Eve Schaeffer, program manager, Wildlife Conservation Network. "He is fully deserving of the prestigious recognition the Indianapolis Prize bestows."
In September 2009, Douglas-Hamilton worked to rescue a rare herd of desert elephants in northern Kenya and Mali, threatened from one of the worst droughts in nearly a dozen years. Just weeks ago, a devastating flood destroyed the Save the Elephants camp in Kenya including staff tents, computers and years of field research notes. With a team of local researchers, the camp is now being rebuilt.
Rodney Jackson, Ph.D.: (Snow Leopard Conservancy)
Jackson, director/founder of the Snow Leopard Conservancy, has received recognition for his groundbreaking radio-tracking study of snow leopards in the 1980s and his subsequent dedication to building local communities' capacity as key players in conserving the species.
"Studying snow leopards is not a passive endeavor. These elusive creatures do not give up their secrets easily," said Don O. Hunter, Ph.D., team leader, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. "They demand boot time, strained lungs, routine hypoxia, poor rations, and the inevitable time away from loved ones. But in spite of these hardships, Rodney is among the handful of field biologists in the world who finds the experience transformative."
Studying snow leopards is extremely challenging; Jackson has endured long, bitter winters and dangerous terrain at altitudes above 12,000 feet to track and monitor these elusive creatures, and to teach local goat herders how to protect their flocks and coexist peacefully with the big cats. Jackson's grassroots approach to research, conservation and education is helping to transform this magnificent big cat from a potential livestock predator to an economic asset throughout much of its 12-country range.
Laurie Marker, D.Phil. (Cheetah Conservation Fund)
Marker, founder/executive director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), has accomplished much since founding CCF in 1990. She has led a conservation program from humble beginnings in rural Namibia to an unparalleled model for predator conservation. Marker's 36 years of genetic, biomedical, reproductive and behavioral research has produced an integrated approach to both captive and wild cheetah conservation programs to ensure the survival of these magnificent big cats.
"In today's world, it is refreshing to see a scientist and conservationist, such as Dr. Marker, who understands the need for humans and animals to co-exist," said Gregg Hudson, executive director and CEO of the Dallas Zoo. "It is precisely this forward thinking that makes Dr. Marker stand out as a shining example of how science, nature and human needs can be met for the long-term benefit of all."
Marker recently confirmed the existence of cheetahs in Angola, a former range for the species. Their status was unknown until last month due to a three-decade civil war in that area. She plans to work with universities and government officials in Angola to share the CCF's proven methods for counting cheetahs and improving education and awareness.
Carl Safina, Ph.D.: (Blue Ocean Institute)
Safina, founder of Blue Ocean Institute and adjunct professor at Stony Brook University, has brought ocean conservation into the environmental mainstream by using science, art and literature to inspire a "sea ethic." Noting the steady declines in fish populations, he became a voice for the conservation and restoration of life in the sea. He helped lead movements to ban high-seas drift nets, reform federal fisheries laws and achieve the passage of a United Nations global fisheries treaty.
"Safina has worked tirelessly and brilliantly to call attention to the plight of marine and oceanic species and to initiate programs aimed at their conservation," said James Gustave Speth, dean emeritus of Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. "Too often the world's oceans have not figured prominently on the environmental protection agenda. Carl's life has been dedicated to remedying this tragic oversight."
A renowned biologist and a charismatic champion for creatures of the sea, Safina has pioneered an innovative approach to calling attention to the plight of marine species through field studies and conservation programs. His award-winning books include Song for the Blue Ocean, Eye of the Albatross and Voyage of the Turtle. Nina Delmar and the Great Whale Rescue is his first children's book.
His upcoming book, The View from Lazy Point; A Natural Year in an Unnatural World, will be published this fall, and he is also developing a TV series on conservation successes.
Amanda Vincent, Ph.D.: (Project Seahorse)
Vincent, a professor at the University of British Columbia, was the first person to study seahorses underwater, document extensive commercial trade, and initiate a seahorse conservation project, Project Seahorse. She is the reason seahorses are on the global conservation agenda. Vincent is considered the leading authority on seahorse biology and conservation. Her work has been a reflection of countless hours of underwater and trade research, intense consultation with communities and consumers and dialogue with all levels of government. One result of her pragmatic idealism has been measurably more fish in the ocean.
"Amanda is a real pioneer and an innovator. Her dedication has helped ensure that marine fishes are now considered wildlife as well as important resources, and seahorses have become a notable flagship for marine conservation," said Heather Koldewey, curator of aquarium projects at the Zoological Society of London.
Vincent holds the Canada Research Chair in Marine Conservation at the University of British Columbia's Fisheries Centre. She has mobilized a wide array of partners and, with them, made active gains in seahorse and marine conservation, from initiating protected areas and developing alliances of impoverished fishers to regulating international trade in seahorses.
About the Committees
Committees for the Indianapolis Prize include 25 renowned conservationists, community and business leaders and six honorary co-chairs: award-winning actor and environmentalist Harrison Ford; Indiana's senior senator, Richard G. Lugar; global leader and conservation supporter Roger Sant, founder of the AES Corporation; Newbery Award-winning author, newspaper columnist and environmentalist Carl Hiaasen; businesswomen and philanthropists Christel DeHaan and Bren Simon.
About the Jury
Indianapolis Prize Jury members will select the winner from among the six finalists. Members include William W. Chin, M.D., executive dean for research and professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School; Christel DeHaan, philanthropist and founder of Christel DeHaan Family Foundation; William David Ehrenfeld, M.D., Ph.D., professor of biology at Rutgers Cook College; John Flicker, Ph.D., president and CEO of the National Audubon Society; Paul Grayson, deputy director and senior vice president of conservation and science at the Indianapolis Zoo; David W. Macdonald, director of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at Oxford University; Myrta Pulliam, director of special projects, Indianapolis Star, past chair of the Board of Trustees, Indianapolis Zoological Society, Inc., and chair of the Indianapolis Prize; Carter S. Roberts, president and CEO of the World Wildlife Fund; John W. Terborgh, Ph.D., research professor emeritus and director of the Center for Tropical Conservation at Duke University and Jeff Trandahl, executive director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
To learn more about each of the finalists, how you can support their work, and the Indianapolis Prize, please visit indianapolisprize.org
The biennial $100,000 Indianapolis Prize represents the largest individual monetary award for animal conservation in the world and is given as an unrestricted gift to the chosen honoree. The Indianapolis Prize was initiated by the Indianapolis Zoo as a significant component of its mission to inspire local and global communities and to celebrate, protect and preserve our natural world through conservation, education and research. This award brings the world's attention to the cause of animal conservation and the brave, talented and dedicated men and women who spend their lives saving the Earth's endangered animal species. It was first awarded in 2006 to Dr. George Archibald, the co-founder of the International Crane Foundation and one of the world's great field biologists. In 2008, the Indianapolis Prize went to Dr. George Schaller, the world's preeminent field biologist and vice president of Panthera and senior conservationist for the Wildlife Conservation Society. The Eli Lilly and Company Foundation has provided funding for the Indianapolis Prize since 2006.
SOURCE Indianapolis Prize