The public has spoken, choosing Bibhuti Lahkar as the people’s choice Heritage Hero, for his dedication to the conservation of India’s Manas Wildlife Sanctuary. The result of a week-long online voting was announced at the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawai‘i, USA.
The Heritage Heroes Awards also recognise Bantu Lukambo and Josué Kambasu Mukura jointly for their work in protecting Virunga National Park in DRC, as well as Yulia Naberezhnaya and Andrey Rudomakha for their joint actions in the Western Caucasus in Russia.
Recognising exceptional people protecting natural World Heritage
The Heritage Heroes award aims to recognise the outstanding efforts of a few brave people, around the four corners of the world, who relentlessly invest efforts to make a difference in the way natural World Heritage sites are conserved, sometimes despite life-threatening situations.
The award is both a celebration of the places and people that inspire us, and a wake-up call on the reality of threats on the ground.
IUCN received over 30 nominations for the Heritage Heroes awards from across its World Heritage networks. The selection panel, led by experts of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), has shortlisted three nominations for the Heritage Heroes awards (by first name and alphabetical order):
- Bantu Lukambo and Josué Kambasu Mukura, Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo – jointly nominated
- Bibhuti Lahkar, Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, India
- Yulia Naberezhnaya and Andrey Rudomahka, Western Caucasus, Russian Federation – jointly nominated
All shortlisted Heritage Heroes gained recognition through a social media campaign in the lead-up to the IUCN World Conservation Congress. Thanks to support from the MAVA Foundation and Star Alliance's Biosphere Connections, three nominees will attend the Congress in Hawai'i, where a people's choice award will be conferred.
The Heritage Heroes award is inspired by the fascinating stories of outstanding individuals, such as Jeffrey Lee, who was recognised at the 2014 IUCN World Parks Congress in Syndey for his determination to protect his ancestral land from the pressures of the mining industry.
The objective of this initiative is to inspire people to value the importance of natural World Heritage sites and recognise the need to collectively invest in their conservation.
A voting campaign for Heritage Heroes
IUCN held a week-long online voting to give the opportunity for the public to select their favourite Heritage Hero. The campaign collected nearly 8,000 unique votes. Bibhuti Lahkar was crowned as the People's Choice Heritage Hero during the IUCN World Conservation Congress.