IUCN’s Harry Messel Award given to two conservationists in Asia

Two conservationists who work in Asia received the 2015 Harry Messel Award for Conservation Leadership. The announcement of the winners was made last month during the IUCN Species Survival Commission Leaders’ Meeting held in Abu Dhabi.

Pygmy hog (Porcula salvania), critically endangered species.

Dr Goutam Narayan who works in Assam, India, and Dr William Robichaud, who works in Lao PDR and Viet Nam, received the award of distinction given to members of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC). They join four other individuals and one organization who were awarded the prize. 

Dr Goutam Narayan was awarded the prize in recognition of his pivotal role on leading the Pygmy Hog Conservation Programme (PHCP) in north-eastern India since 1995 (thus saving a whole genus from extinction) and his long service to the SSC Wild Pig Specialist Group. Dr Narayan co-founded the PHCP when the species was in the verge of extinction. Over the past 20 years, the programme has secured the future of the pygmy hog through conservation breeding and reintroduction in restored grassland habitats.

Dr William Robichaud is the founding Coordinator of the Saola Working Group of the IUCN SSC’s Asian Wild Cattle Specialist Group. He has been working on wildlife conservation and research in Southeast Asia for around 25 years. He received the prize in recognition of his extraordinary leadership in raising global attention for the conservation of the saola through the SSC Saola Working Group, and for building a dedicated network of scientists and practitioners in Lao PDR and Viet Nam focused on saving this iconic species.

The other awardees are: Ms Elham Abtin, from the SSC Crocodile Specialist Group; Ms Cathy Dean of the SSC African Rhino Specialist Group; Mr Quentin Luke of the SSC East African Plant Red List Authority; Dr Mijoro Rakotoarinivo of the SSC Madagascar Plant and Palm Specialist Groups; and the IUCN Global Fungal Red List Initiative, in particular members Anders Dahlberg and Greg Mueller.

Since it was established in 2004, the Harry Messel Award has been given to 18 individuals. The award is named for Professor Harry Messel, the former long-standing Chair of the SSC Crocodile Specialist Group. The prize recognizes exemplary service to the SSC, especially from individuals who have made a specific contribution to species conservation on the ground or through their leadership, as part of the work of an SSC Specialist Group or Task Force.

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