Two Kenyans have been feted for their work in wildlife conservation.
WildlifeDirect’s Paula Kahumbu has been awarded the prestigious international prize in honour of her work to inspire Kenyans to put an end to the country’s elephant poaching crisis.
While Shivani Bhalla, the founder of Ewaso Lions was recognized for her Warrior Watch campaign which has been working to improve coexistence between people and lions in northern Kenya.
Shivani founded Ewaso Lions in 2007 to promote co-existence between carnivores and the local mostly nomadic population.
She has also worked for the Kenya Wildlife Service and Save the Elephants where she promoted environmental education programs among schools and students in Samburu.
Each Award Winner receives a prize worth £35,000 to be spent over one year.
Kahumbu is Executive Director of WildlifeDirect which launched “Hands off Our Elephants” in 2013, a campaign to tackle poaching, and the trafficking of ivory, and with the ultimate ambition of closing down the international ivory trade.
Elephants make a major contribution to Kenya’s economy through tourism which accounting for about 12% of Kenya’s GDP and employs over 300,000 people.
More ivory is trafficked through Kenya than any other country in Africa and the Hands off Our Elephants campaign, with the support of its patron, Kenya’s first lady, Margaret Kenyatta, is informing and mobilising Kenyans to take action to beat this iniquitous trade.
Key to Paula’s approach is engaging directly with government authorities and prosecutors to adopt new legislation that ensures those found guilty of poaching and other wildlife crimes are brought to justice and receive much stricter sentences.
Sir David Attenborough, a Trustee of the Whitley Fund for Nature, said: “Whitley Award winners are successful because they don’t just watch and measure – they act!
Edward Whitley, Founder of The Whitley Fund for Nature, says: “We recognise that wildlife and habitat conservation in developing countries cannot be successful without the involvement of people at the grassroots level.
Every year, I am delighted to meet the winners of the Whitley Awards.
The Whitley Awards honoured six other conservationists from developing countries around the world.