• Not High Income Economy countries – Wildlife conservation projects led by local leaders based in countries that are not defined as a High Income Economy by the World Bank. Exceptions to this criterion include Equatorial Guinea and certain island nations in the Caribbean. If you have any questions about eligible countries, please contact WFN.
  • Nationals with local support – The Whitley Awards support nationals of the country in which they are working (i.e. you were born there or have lived there a long time and achieved national status.) If you are not a national but believe you have an exceptional case based on long term residency (15+ years) and a demonstrable commitment to that country/region, then please contact WFN.
  • We seek grassroots conservationists who are embedded in and/or from the communities where they work. Applicants should work for or lead locally incorporated NGOs in the Global South, rather than be in-country staff employed by NGOs headquartered in the Global North.
  • Good communicators and passionate people – people who will inspire others and importantly, who will collaborate and share results. Please note applicants must be able to communicate in English.
  • Leadership and teamwork – Whitley Awards are won by individuals backed by an appropriate team/organisation. Individuals working in isolation and team/joint entries are not eligible.
  • Projects that are based on scientific evidence and understanding – this can be in the leader, expertise on the team, or via partners/collaboration.
  • Work involving (and benefitting) the local community and stakeholders is essential.
  • Ecosystem / landscape level projects are preferred. Genuine flagships are accepted, but not if results are purely species-specific.
  • Projects must be able to demonstrate past success and an evidence-based approach. We do not fund pilot projects or work that is at the start-up stage.
  • Grassroots, pragmatic work that is realistic, but ambitious too. We look for applicants on the cusp of ‘something big’ and work that is replicable or scalable.
  • Actions that will have clear, measurable outcomes – we look for applications that have given careful thought to what indicators can be measured to evidence impact.
  • Sustainable projects – we want the work to continue into the future, well past the Whitley Award. Successful proposals will demonstrate long-term planning.
  • Projects that demonstrate value for money and ability to manage funding at the Whitley Award level (£40,000). Organisations with Audited Accounts are preferred.
  • Projects for which an Award will make a big difference. Priority will be given to those that can demonstrate need.
  • Work that needs publicity – ones that will do well if ‘doors can be opened’ via the media and enhanced recognition.


  • Projects based in High Income Economies as defined by the World Bank. If your project is based in a country that has recently been re-classified as having a High Income Economy, please contact WFN.
  • Expatriates – such leaders do excellent work around the world but are not the focus of this Awards scheme, which aims to champion local leaders.
  • Pure academic research – winners need to have larger aims than ‘research and publish’. Any research should be applied research.
  • MSc / PhD fieldwork – if students benefit from a project funded that is great, but we will not fund the fieldwork as an end to itself.
  • Expeditions and conference attendance.
  • ‘Start-up’ or pilot projects. Evidence of prior success is very important.
  • Absentee leaders – especially if the leader is mid-PhD and will be absent from the project for long periods and/or based abroad.
  • ‘One-person bands’ – people who will not reward emerging leadership on their team, train team members or who are reluctant to collaborate.
  • Joint applications or nominations for someone else.
  • Pure rural/ economic/ sustainable development where direct conservation benefits are hard to quantify.
  • Land purchase or projects focused on construction of buildings.
  • Animal welfare & rehabilitation of captive animals.
  • Captive breeding – we recognise it as useful conservation tool, but at the level of funding we have available, we can’t make much impact. Therefore, we would only fund captive breeding where underlying causes of species decline in the wild have been fully addressed prior to breeding species in captivity.
  • Government employees. However, we are aware that grey areas exist where conservationists will often be affiliated with government institutions in order to operate. If this is the case, please contact WFN.
  • While WFN strive to fund projects in every country that meets our eligibility criteria, it is occasionally necessary to restrict support in a particular country. We are regrettably unable to consider ANY applications for projects in Russia. We keep this list under constant review and any changes in policy will be advertised on our website.

If you have any questions or require further information, please email [email protected]