WCN’s Conservation Partners come from diverse backgrounds and work with many different species across the globe, but something that all of our Partners have in common is their excellent standards of transparency, humility, and inclusive approaches for their hard work and research. It is no surprise that some of our Partners have recently been honored with awards in recognition of their achievements and dedication to conservation.
Dr. Shivani Bhalla, Founder and Executive Director of Ewaso Lions, was awarded the 2023 Whitley Gold Award. She is also the recipient of the 2014 Whitley Award and has been named an Emerging Explorer by National Geographic. Through community-led solutions, Shivani and her team have been addressing lion decline in northern Kenya for the last two decades. Local leadership is the backbone for each of Ewaso Lions’ conservation initiatives, and they have come up with key solutions such as training Samburu warriors to mitigate human-wildlife conflict, empowering women through their Mama Simba program, and teaching children about the value of lions through their Lion Kids Camps. Shivani will continue to lead Ewaso Lions forward with this effective, community-based conservation model that benefits lions and enables local people to coexist with them. With the money received with her award, Shivani and her team will conduct conservation workshops, train 150 community members to drive forward community-led conservation efforts in northern Kenya and develop a global conservation framework by collaborating with 25 conservation leaders from around the world.
Albert Salemgareyev is the Lead Specialist at the Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan as well as a Steering Committee member of Saiga Conservation Alliance and a former WCN Scholar. He also received the 2023 Whitley Award for his valuable saiga antelope research, which is responsible for helping to secure nearly 10,000,000 acres of protected land in Kazakhstan. Saiga were once one of the fastest declining mammal species in the world due to conflict with local pastoralists over natural resources. Albert and his team will share their data with local governments, protected area staff, and pastoralists to create strategies for sustainable resource management that benefit saiga. They will also share their findings with other saiga conservation initiatives in Kazakhstan and neighboring countries.
Dr. Rachel Graham, Founder and Executive Director of MarAlliance, is a recent Ocean Hero Award winner. For the past 30 years, Rachel has lived in Central America and worked with traditional fishers as well as local governments to implement solutions that succeed at balancing the needs of coastal communities and threatened marine wildlife. Rachel founded MarAlliance in 2014 to promote inclusive and impactful marine conservation, with a focus on sharks and rays. Since then, MarAlliance has conducted scientific research to support fisheries management and conservation, taught local communities about marine wildlife, and expanded marine protected areas by advocating for legislation. Rachel’s leadership and MarAlliance’s impact have inspired many people in Belize and Central America to get involved in protecting ocean biodiversity.
Dr. Pablo Borboroglu, Co-founder and President of Global Penguin Society (GPS), is a recent winner of the Indianapolis Prize—the first recipient from South America. Pablo has dedicated his life to the conservation of penguins. Internationally recognized, he has spent over three decades studying penguins and leading conservation efforts for them across four continents. He also led efforts to create Blue Patagonia, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve responsible for protecting 40% of the global population of Magellanic penguins. Through the GPS education program, Pablo is helping to educate the next generation of penguin conservationists and teaching children the value of protecting penguins and their habitats. Along with his award, Pablo will also receive an unrestricted $250,000—the largest monetary award in the world that supports conservation—from the Indianapolis Zoological Society, Inc.
WCN extends its full congratulations to these incredible conservationists. We are honored to support their award-winning contributions to protecting wildlife around the world, and look forward to celebrating many more occasions recognizing their impactful work. We are so very proud of Shivani, Albert, Rachel, and Pablo!