The Whitley Awards Ceremony 2019 took place last May 1st at the Royal Geographical Society in London to recognize the hard work and dedication of seven inspiring conservationist, among them Jon Paul Rodríguez, Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission
Jon Paul Rodríguez, IUCN Species Survival Commission Chair, received the Whitley Gold Award, the top-notch accolade of the Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN) in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the conservation of the Yellow-shouldered Parrot on Margarita Island in the Venezuelan Caribbean.
The Whitley Gold Award is selected among previous Whitley Award winners and is worth up to £60,000 in project funding. “The 2003 Whitley Award came at a critical time to our project. We had undergone a major poaching event, and our infrastructure was compromised. The substantial amount provided by this award, combined with several continuation funding grants, strongly helped us to consolidate a team, rebuild our field and office facilities, integrate local communities, and, importantly, reduce poaching rates, protect breeding habitat and increase the parrot population size”, says IUCN Species Survival Commission Chair, Jon Paul Rodríguez.
On its 30th anniversary, the conservation project has more than doubled the parrot population. Poaching of parrot chicks has been reduced by 83%, thanks to the clock surveillance involving communities, the police and national authorities.
In addition, increased fledgling success, with 126 parrots flying the nest in 2018 —the highest number in the project’s history!
“To prevent extinction, we need to have the right people, in the right place, at the right time. To achieve this, we need to bolster local players that can have the highest impact for nature conservation”, says Jon Paul Rodríguez, also co-founder of Provita NGO and Professor at the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Investigation. “We, conservationists, know how to do conservation — many examples of success exist, as you can see from our six winners tonight”.
The winners of the 2019 Whitley Awards are:
- Vatosoa Rakotondrazafy —MIHARI: a civil society movement to safeguard marine resources, Madagascar.
- José Sarasola —The Chaco eagle: a flagship for semiarid wildlife conservation, Argentina.
- Caleb OforiBoateng: Critical refuge for the Togo slippery frog, Ghana.
- Nikolai Petkov —Wetlands on the brink: conserving the redbreasted goose, Bulgaria.
- Ilena Zanella: Strengthened sanctuary for the scalloped hammerhead shark, Costa Rica.
- Wendi Tamariska: Protecting orangutans and rainforests through sustainable livelihoods, Indonesia.