Winner publications

Pablo Borboroglu co-authored an international paper analysing 60 million years of information about penguins, to learn in detail about their origin and evolution, and how they adapted to live in environments with the most extreme conditions on the planet as they dispersed from a microcontinent called Zelandia (around present-day New Zealand).

Micaela Camino has contributed to a collaborative paper documenting the periodic disappearance (and reappearance) of white-lipped peccaries in nine South and Central American nations. The ground-breaking study helped to confirm that this little-known species has large-scale and long-term population cycles, which scientists believe could be the first documented case of natural population cyclicity in a Neotropical mammal.

Zafer Kizilkaya contributed to a framework to achieve global goals for the ocean Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) guide and its supplementary materials.

Manfred Aimé Epanda has published two papers with the support of his Whitley Award, on wildlife conservation’s contribution to local people’s livelihoods in Cameroon. The first paper looks at the value of sustainable forest products, while the second paper examines the change in people’s perceptions of conservation when linked to poverty alleviation.

Shivani Bhalla and her team have published a paper on fostering coexistence with large carnivores in human-dominated landscapes – vital to the conservation of endangered species. They have evaluated the impact of Warrior Watch, a grassroots intervention established in 2010 that draws on the traditional social structures of Samburu pastoralists in Kenya to peacefully diffuse human-lion conflict.

Gerardo Ceballos has contributed to this seminal paper summarising the stark consequences of biodiversity loss, climate disruption and human overconsumption. It finds that “the scale of the threats to the biosphere and all its lifeforms – including humanity – is in fact so great that it is difficult to grasp” and highlights the need for experts in any discipline “to eschew reticence, avoid sugar-coating the overwhelming challenges ahead and tell it like it is”.

Patrícia Medici won the 2020 Whitley Gold Award in recognition of her lifelong work with the lowland tapir in Brazil. This new paper is the first to assess the impact of pesticides on the species, and reveals detrimental effects that could lead to population-level problems if not investigated further.

Charudutt Mishra has collaborated on this paper about the ethics of camera traps. They are increasingly used as conservation tools – particularly for capturing data on elusive species in remote habitats, such as the snow leopards Charu works with – but often record images of people inadvertently. The paper offers a code of conduct to help conservationists navigate the ethical-legal tightrope of respecting privacy while fulfilling their public duty to report crime.

Continuing with the technological theme, Jose Sarasola published this paper on using drones to reduce human disturbance while monitoring breeding status of the Endangered Chaco eagle.

With 2019 Continuation Funding Arnaud Desbiez is working with beekeepers in Brazil’s Cerrado biome, who often kill giant armadillos in retaliation for damaging hives. This paper presents data on the pattern of damage then evaluates the effectiveness of several non-lethal mitigation measures. It also sets out Arnaud’s idea for a Honey Certification Scheme to incentivise the conservation of this amazing species.

Joanna Alfaro-Shigueto and the team at her NGO, ProDelphinus, have published a series of papers over the past two years reporting on their work with small-scale fishermen in Peru, conserving marine wildlife while supporting sustainable livelihoods.

Jon Paul Rodríguez co-founded his NGO, Provita, 30 years ago to conserve threatened wildlife in Venezuela and has since scaled up his work to an international level. He is currently the elected Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission – the first person from outside of Europe or North America to hold this eminent position. In this paper he and colleagues explore decentralising leadership, in order to develop local capacity for conservation. They argue that small, locally-focused organisations working on the front lines of biodiversity loss are often the most effective.

This collection of papers explores the impact of protected areas in marine, terrestrial and freshwater environments, on both wildlife and people.

This article presents guiding principles for understanding the impact of conservation interventions on peoples’ lives, beyond the objective measure of income.

Two papers from Carlos Peres explore new ways to navigate the need for both socio-economic development and biodiversity conservation. This paper contains an ecological evaluation of the largest community-based conservation project in the Brazilian Amazon which found that, over the last 40 years, it has led to large-scale population recovery of the target giant South American turtle and a reduction in poaching from 99% to 2%. Elsewhere, the analysis of 83 oxbow lakes over 8 years summarised in this paper found that those protected by local people contained 3000% more fish, allowing households to earn much better annual incomes. Both papers are examples of the win-win delivered by community-led conservation.