Whitley Award alumnus John Kahekwa announced as an Earthshot Prize finalist

The Earthshot Prize has unveiled its first-ever 15 finalists: a global set of innovators with ground-breaking solutions to the world’s greatest environmental challenges.

We are thrilled that among them is Whitley Award alumnus John Kahekwa and his NGO, The Pole Pole Foundation. A finalist in the Protect and Restore Nature category, John has been recognised for his “inspiring community-led model of conservation that protects gorillas and local livelihoods”.

“I would like to send my acknowledgement to WFN, which were the first to recognise us and help us become what we are today.” – John Kahekwa

Whitley Award winner John Kahekwa

John won a Whitley Award in 2013. He is striving to protect the DRC’s Endangered Eastern lowland gorillas, which share precious natural resources with millions of people who suffer from extreme poverty. Since the civil war in 1996 the balance has tipped: poaching, logging and human pressure have increased so dramatically that the gorilla population has plummeted by 40%. John works with communities to understand their needs and provide alternative, nonexploitative livelihoods.

Whitley Award winner John Kahekwa working with communities in the DRC

Now, 2020 Continuation Funding is bringing support to this underfunded area. Well-equipped rangers and drones will relieve some of the immediate dangers posed to gorillas, by reducing the number of snare traps and suppressing poaching rates. Additionally, much needed data will be collected to inform management plans for their long-term conservation.

John Kahekwa receives his Whitley Award from WFN Patron HRH The Princess Royal

Created by Prince William and The Royal Foundation, The Earthshot Prize is seeking out the most inspiring and innovative solutions to the greatest environmental challenges facing the planet. WFN is delighted to be a nominator.

750 nominations were received and 15 inaugural finalists from 14 countries have been selected by an expert panel. All 15 will receive support to scale their work, and five winners will be chosen by The Earthshot Prize Council to receive £1million at the inaugural ceremony on 17th October. Taking place in London, it will be broadcast by the BBC and Discovery channels globally.

Congratulations, John!