Press Releases

Whitley Award donated by the Savitri Waney Charitable Trust – winner Ximena Velez Liendo, Bolivia

17 May 2017

Conservation leader from Bolivia wins 2017 Whitley Award

Prize awarded for enabling coexistence of Andean bears and farmers in the Bolivian mountains

HRH The Princess Royal will tomorrow present a Whitley Award, a prestigious international nature conservation prize worth £35,000 in project funding, to Ximena Velez-Liendo at a ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society, London, in honour of her work to enable the coexistence of Andean bears and farmers in the Bolivian mountains.

Andean bears are also known as spectacled bears due to their facial markings. The Inter Andean Dry Forests represent an important stronghold for them as South America’s only bear. Due to intensive human activity dating back to Inca times, this mountainous ecosystem is highly fragmented and is considered one of the most endangered tropical forests on Earth. In Tarija, Bolivia, up to 90% of people live in poverty and predation of precious livestock by native carnivores can sometimes lead to the killing of Andean bears in retaliation.

Ximena Velez-Liendo is Principal Researcher at the NGO PROMETA. With her Whitley Award she will generate the first population estimation for bears in the country using camera traps, and quantify human-bear conflict. The results will
be used to support a national plan for the Andean bear recovery and develop strategies to enable coexistence with farmers.

Edward Whitley, Founder of the Whitley Fund for Nature, said: “WFN focus on conservation success stories which give us a reason for optimism. The Awards Ceremony is about recognising progress – winning those small battles which cumulatively equate to change at the national level. In addition to the financial benefit of winning an Award, winners receive professional communications training to turn scientists into ambassadors, so they are able to communicate effectively with the public and inform change at the political level.”

Ximena is one of six individuals to have been awarded a share of the prize money worth £210,000, winning the Whitley Award donated by the Savitri Waney Charitable Trust. Other winners in the 2017 Whitley Awards are:

Sanjay Gubbi – India
Reducing deforestation in Karnataka’s tiger corridors, India
The Whitley Award donated by WWF-UK

Indira Lacerna-Widmann – Philippines
Partnering with prisoners to safeguard the Critically Endangered Philippine cockatoo
The Whitley Award donated by Notting Hill Preparatory School

Ian Little – South Africa
Custodians of South Africa’s threatened grassland biodiversity
The Whitley Award donated by the Garfield Weston Foundation

Purnima Barman – India
Inspiring women to protect Assam’s greater adjutant and its wetland habitat, India
The Whitley Award donated by The Shears Foundation in memory of Trevor Shears

Alexander Blanco – Venezuela
Nest protectors: conserving Venezuela’s magnificent harpy eagles as a rainforest flagship
The Whitley Award donated by The William Brake Charitable Trust in memory of William Brake

Sir David Attenborough, a Trustee of the Whitley Fund for Nature, added: “It is now more important than ever to invest in those working to protect our planet. The Whitley Fund for Nature is at the forefront of supporting these heroic individuals”

HRH The Princess Royal will also present the 2017 Whitley Gold Award – a prestigious profile and funding prize awarded to a previous Whitley Award winner in recognition of their outstanding contribution to conservation. The Whitley Gold Award is donated by The Friends and Scottish Friends of the
Whitley Fund for Nature and is worth £50,000.

This year’s recipient is 2013 Whitley Award winner, Zafer Kizilkaya for his project – ‘Guardians of the sea: securing and expanding marine reserves along the Turkish coastline’. Zafer is President of the Mediterranean Conservation Society, an NGO which aims to conserve Turkey’s marine and coastal ecosystems.

He leads a series of projects in the area working with local fishing communities, coastguards and government to promote ocean conservation and sustainable fishing practices that benefit wildlife such as monk seals, sand bar sharks and loggerhead turtles, and boost fisher income. With his Whitley Gold Award Zafer will consolidate his efforts in Gökova Bay and scale up his successful approach in nearby Fethiye Bay. His long term vision is to replicate his work throughout the Mediterranean.

Ends

Press materials available:
• Video footage of the Awards Ceremony, individual films featuring the award
winner and copyright-cleared photographs will be available upon arrangement
with Firebird PR: contact Jane Bevan or Jana Fickerova at Firebird PR on +00 44
01235 835297 or via email to jb@firebirdpr.co.uk

Notes to Editors:
• Contact Firebird PR for further information: Jane Bevan or Jana Fickerova at Firebird PR on +00 44 01235 835297 or via email to jb@firebirdpr.co.uk
• The Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN) is a UK registered charity that champions outstanding grassroots leaders in nature conservation across the developing world.
• The Whitley Awards are prestigious international prizes presented to individuals in recognition of their achievements in nature conservation. Each Award Winner receives a prize worth £35,000 in project funding over one year. The charity’s
patron, HRH The Princess Royal, presents the Awards each year at a special ceremony in London.
• The Whitley Awards have been presented annually since 1994. Since then, the Whitley Fund for Nature has given over £13.5 million to conservation and recognised more than 185 conservation leaders in over 80 countries.
• WFN operates a rigorous application process involving expert panel representation from international NGOs including WWF-UK, Fauna and Flora International and the World Land Trust. This year, WFN received 166 applications which passed through
four stages of assessment, reviewed at every step by expert screeners and panellists who kindly offer their expertise voluntarily.
• The Whitley Awards are open to individuals working on wildlife conservation issues in developing countries. Further eligibility criteria are available from Firebird PR.
• During their trip to London for the Awards week finalists have the opportunity to meet the judges, WFN trustees, including Sir David Attenborough and WFN’s patron HRH The Princess Royal. In addition they are able to network with the other finalists,
attend receptions with leading conservation organisations and academics, meet Whitley Fund for Nature donors and participate in professional media and speech training. Meeting the media is also a significant event since publicity both in the UK and their home countries helps raise the profile of their work.
• Whitley Award winners join an international network of Whitley Award alumni eligible to apply for Continuation Funding grants. These follow-on grants are awarded competitively to winners seeking to scale up their effective conservation results on the ground over 1-2 years.
• The Whitley Gold Award recognises an outstanding past recipient of a Whitley Award who has gone on to make a significant contribution to conservation. Joining the Judging Panel to assist in selection, the Gold winner also acts as mentor to Whitley Award winners receiving their Awards in the same year.
• WFN is generously supported by: The Arcus Foundation; The William Brake Charitable Trust; The Byford Trust; Sarah Chenevix-Trench; The Constance Travis Charitable Trust; Notting Hill Preparatory School; The G D Charitable Trust; HSBC
Holdings Plc; Icon Films; Interconnect IT; Jeremy & Britta Lloyd; Lund Trust: a charitable fund of Peter Baldwin and Lisbet Rausing; The Thomson Reuters Foundation; The Rufford Foundation; The Savitri Waney Charitable Trust; The Schroder Foundation; Fondation Segré; The Shears Foundation; The Garfield
Weston Foundation; HDH Wills 1965 Charitable Trust; The Whitley Animal Protection Trust; WWF-UK; The Friends and Scottish Friends of the Whitley Fund for Nature; and many individual and anonymous donors to whom we are grateful.

Download this press release