One of Africa’s most endangered large mammals, the Grevy’s Zebra are one of the species that are benefiting from the work of this year’s Whitley Awards Finalists.

Competition for the 2013 Whitley Awards, which marks their 20th anniversary, saw a surge in applicants, with the highest number of entries yet to the scheme. The Whitley Awards are presented annually to outstanding grassroots leaders in nature conservation across the developing world. Since the first award in 1994, the Whitley Fund for Nature has given almost £10 million to conservation and recognised 160 conservation leaders in more than 70 countries.

“For 20 years now, the Whitley Awards have pioneered effective ways to protect wild nature,” says Sir David Attenborough, a Trustee of the Whitley Fund for Nature. “Perhaps the greatest legacy of the charity is the growing network of winners themselves who represent some of the best conservation leaders in the world. The range of challenges the winners face is remarkable, the solutions are diverse; and together their reach is truly global.”

The 2013 Whitley Award finalists are:

Ekwoge Abwe: Local community protection of the endangered great apes of Ebo Forest, Cameroon

Aparajita Datta: Threatened hornbills as icons for the conservation of the Himalayan forests of Arunachal Pradesh, India

Zahirul Islam: On Land and Sea: Community based sea turtle conservation, Bangladesh

Zafer Kizilkaya: Turkey’s first community managed marine protected area in Gökova bay, Turkey

Daniel Letoiye: Restoring grasslands for the coexistence of Grevy’s Zebra and free-ranging livestock, Kenya

John Kahekwa: Inspiring community action for gorilla conservation, Democratic Republic of Congo

Eugene Simonov: Keeping Rivers Wild and Free: International protection of the Amur River basin and wetlands in China, Russia and Mongolia

During their trip to London, the finalists will have the opportunity to meet WFN Patron, HRH The Princess Royal, network with the other finalists, attend receptions with leading conservation organisations and academics, meet Whitley Fund for Nature donors and participate in professional development training.

The Whitley Awards Ceremony takes place on Thursday May 2nd at London’s Royal Geographical Society. Attendance is strictly by invitation only. Please visit the Friends section of the website to learn how you can donate and become a Friend of WFN, and gain the opportunity to attend future Whitley Award Ceremonies and other WFN events.