Press Releases

Continuation Funding Winners 2017

10 November 2017

Over half a million pounds awarded to international conservation leaders by British wildlife charity, The Whitley Fund for Nature

Whitley Fund for Nature Continuation Funding 2017 winners announced

The Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN) has awarded a total of £595,000 in Continuation Funding to nine grassroots conservation leaders. Drawn from the charity’s global network of previous Whitley Award winners, grants of up to £70,000 have been awarded to enable winners to scale up their vital conservation work over the next two years.

Some of the latest recipients of Continuation Funding first received their Whitley Award from WFN’s patron, HRH The Princess Royal, as far back as the year 2000, and have continued their pioneering work with WFN’s support to protect wild species and places including Eastern Pacific sharks, sea-turtles, orangutans, Cross River gorillas, Asian elephants, night monkeys, cotton-top tamarins, the Philippine Eagle, and the Himalayas.

WFN’s long-term commitment and support encourages its Award winners to aim high and take the calculated risks necessary to protect the fragile ecosystems and the communities that depend on them for their livelihood and well-being.

The 2017 WFN Continuation Funding winners are:

  • Panut Hadisiwoyo, Indonesia – A real life Jungle Book: Safeguarding orangutans by planting the seeds of education
    Awarded £52,000 over two years
    The Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra is the only place in the world where orangutans, rhinos, elephants and tigers still co-exist, yet this habitat is being lost at an alarming rate. This innovative project will incorporate methods shared by fellow Whitley alumni during an exchange visit, where local people undertake conservation activities in return for a service. In this case, trees are grown in exchange for schooling. Seedlings produced by the project will be used to restore 100 ha of forest for orangutans. Two hundred orange farmers will benefit from learning sustainable cultivation practices to decrease loss of forest to farming, so old and young can together maintain their unique ecological heritage.
  • Zahirul Islam, Bangladesh & Myanmar – Uniting nations to protect five of the world’s Sea turtle species along the coastline of southern Asia
    Awarded: £70,000 over two years
    Five of the world’s seven marine turtle species are found in the Bay of Bengal. Here, Bangladesh’s sea turtles remain under threat from drowning in fishing nets, human consumption of their meat and eggs, and habitat loss caused by insensitive tourism and coastal development. Zahirul’s project will map turtle habitat and engage communities to manage and conserve turtle nesting sites. Continuation Funding will allow Zahirul to expand his approach over the whole Bangladesh coast and into neighbouring Myanmar for the first time. The team will train Forest Department officials and fisheries officers to strengthen law enforcement and bolster awareness by establishing an education centre. Lessons will be shared between Zahirul and WFN alumni who are conserving
    turtles in South America. The project will provide insight into the status of turtles along the entire coast of Bangladesh and take action to safeguard turtles both on land and sea.
  • Angela Maldonado, Colombia & Peru – Using the legal system to tackle the illegal wildlife trade in night monkeys along the Colombia-Peru border
    Awarded: £70,000 over two years
    This project will ensure the future of Nancy Ma’s night monkey, which faces local extinction in Colombia, by tackling the world’s fourth most valuable illicit commerce – illegal wildlife trade. Angela’s grassroots work has already proven
    that to effectively curb illegal capture of night monkeys, alternative income sources must be provided for communities involved in the trade which is rife across the tri-national Colombian-Peruvian-Brazil border. In addition, the grant
    will support Angela in bravely pursuing a law suit against a laboratory to prevent unsustainable capture of night monkeys for malaria research, which violates international scientific protocol and could be pushing the species to the brink.
  • Randall Arauz, Costa Rica – Halting the extinction of Eastern Pacific sharks through public and political campaigning
    Awarded: £70,000 over two years
    A quarter of all shark species are threatened with extinction and Randall’s project protects blue, thresher and hammerhead sharks from unsustainable fishing practices and tackles domestic consumption of shark meat through
    public and political campaigning. This innovative project is establishing transnational ‘shark swim-ways’ to protect and connect key habitat for sharks across the Galapagos-Cost Rica-Colombia migration corridor. Expansion of protected areas and additional international trade restrictions, will be combined with cutting-edge research and deployment of drones to monitor marine reserves. The project will safeguard sharks, guide future management, and develop collaborations with other Whitley Award winners and NGOs in
    Latin America.
  • Rosamira Guillen, Colombia – Restoring forest corridors to create a refuge for cotton-top tamarins in Colombia
    Awarded: £70,000 over two years
    As a result of widespread forest loss, the Critically Endangered cotton-top tamarin is one of the most threatened primates on the planet. Only a few thousand remain, existing in small forest fragments in Northern Colombia. With no way of moving between patches, the tamarins are at risk of extinction and genetic defects. To prevent this, Rosamira is planting forest corridors to reconnect isolated cotton-top populations. Collaborating with landowners and having learned cutting-edge reforestation techniques from fellow Whitley
    Award winners in Brazil, this project will double the area of suitable habitat for cotton-tops and provide a lasting refuge for these tiny monkeys.
  • Gargi Banerji, India – Protecting fragile mountain landscapes and reducing the risk of natural disasters in the Himalayas
    Awarded: £70,000 over two years
    Gargi will be working to protect the fragile mountains of the Himalayas by training young people to carry out innovative ecological monitoring and community-based conservation. Over-exploitation of resources has caused extensive loss of biodiversity, and local livelihoods, which has resulted in increased exposure to natural disasters such as landslides, with climate change
    amplifying the effects. Gargi’s NGO, Pragya, will become the regional environmental monitoring centre for the Himalayas and will be adopting a
    region-wide conservation strategy to encourage grassroots activism that draws a direct link between the health of this upland ecosystem and that of the people living there, by addressing these challenges at the landscape Level.
  • Jayson Ibanez, Philippines – Conserving the Philippine’s Bird King – one of the world’s most endangered raptors
    Awarded £70,000 over two years
    Only 400 breeding pairs of the Philippine eagle remain, making it one of the world’s most endangered raptors. It is the country’s national bird, and acts as an umbrella species for other endangered wildlife that share its habitat. To
    address the twin threats of deforestation and hunting, Jayson is combining indigenous knowledge and science to inform management of eagle habitat within local territories and community conservation sites. Building on previous success, the project will set up local governance structures and train forest
    wardens in five new sites, collect vital eagle data and establish the country’s first national education scheme to raise awareness of the importance of
    biodiversity and ecosystem services in the Philippines.
  • Inaoyom Imong, Nigeria – Ensuring the survival of Cross River gorillas threatened by hunting and deforestation pressures
    Awarded £52,000 over two years
    Lacking formal protection, Inaoyom will improve law enforcement to reduce hunting pressure and safeguard Critically Endangered Cross River gorillas in the Mbe Moutains, where 10% of the global population of just 300 remain. The project will protect an important habitat corridor for gorillas and develop the capacity of communities living alongside them, whose support is vital to gorilla
    survival. Inaoyom’s project will build local capacity and independence, training communities in project management and fundraising, and support sustainable cocoa farming and harvesting to reduce pressure on the forest. This project builds on Inaoyom’s previous work where there are already signs of success, with the area seeing a reduction in deforestation and hunting since work began, giving these rare gorillas a chance of survival.
  • Ananda Kumar, India – Co-habitation: using communications technology to reduce human-elephant conflict in southern India
    Awarded £70,000 over two years
    Ananda aims to promote co-existence in a country where elephants and people have to share space. He uses modern technology, such as SMS
    messaging, calls and alert beacons as an early warning system to alert communities to elephant presence in real time. Surprise encounters with herds can lead to fatalities for both parties and so addressing this is crucial. The project has already proven ground breaking in the Valparai region and with this grant will replicate Anand’s successful approach to save lives in Hassan.

On announcing the new funding, WFN Deputy Director, Danni Parks, said “One of the key things about WFN is that we are in it for long haul. Fifty-five per cent of former Whitley Award winners go on to win Continuation Funding, with some projects having
been supported by the charity for over 20 years. While scientific rigour remains the mainstay of the Whitley Awards programme, Continuation Funding supports winners to aim high and take calculated risks as they scale up their work. It recognises some of the most influential conservationists in their field and enables them to deliver measurable conservation impact at both the grassroots and national level.”

Whilst the ability for these winners to apply for future funding is a vital source of income for their projects, demand inevitably exceeds current resources. WFN is striving to raise the £1.5 million being sought annually by former winners, who are managing innovative and important conservation projects around the world. If you would like to know more, or are interested in supporting these conservation heroes, please contact WFN’s Donor Manager Georgie White: [email protected]


For further information or to obtain images, please contact:

Jane Bevan or Adela Cragg at Firebird PR on +00 44 01235 835297 or via email
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Notes to Editors:

  • 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 £40,000 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 attended by 500 supporters and WFN Trustee, Sir David Attenborough.
  • Whitley Award winners are able to reapply for WFN Continuation Funding grants worth up to £70,000 over two years to enable further scale up of their successful work and respond to changing threats. Over £500,000 is awarded in further funding to alumni each year, making Continuation Funding the charity’s largest grants programme.
  • WFN is extremely grateful to the generous donors who have chosen to give exclusively to its Continuation Funding programme: Arcus Foundation; The Byford Trust; Earlymarket; The G.D. Charitable Trust; Britta & Jeremy Lloyd Family Charitable Trust; Lund Trust, a charitable fund of Peter Baldwin and Lisbet Rausing; The Schroder Foundation; The Constance Travis Charitable Trust;
    Whitley Animal Protection Trust; and the Friends and Scottish Friends of Whitley Fund for Nature, and all those who have chosen to give anonymously.

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