Nepali activist shortlisted for nature award

Sonam Tashi Lama, a Nepali grassroots conservationist working to protect the country’s endangered red panda is among 15 activists shortlisted for the prestigious Whitley Award 2022.

He has been recognised by the Whitley Fund for Nature for strengthening community-based initiatives to save the last of the red panda, which is also known as the ‘first panda’ to distinguish it from the Giant Panda in China.

Working as a Program Coordinator in Red Panda Network, Sonam Tashi Lama is a conservationist from Nepal who has been working for more than a decade in implementing community-based red panda conservation approaches in Nepal. His work has created a grassroot impact that has fostered red panda conservation stewardship in communities of eastern Nepal.

Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN) is a UK fundraising and grant-giving charity founded by Edward Whitley OBE in 1993. The award winners are local environmental heroes working across countries to create lasting benefits for wildlife, landscapes and people. The flagship conservation awards worth £40,000 are honoured competitively following rigorous assessment by an expert panel.

Read more: Republic of Nepal’s animal kingdom, Sonam Tashi Lama and Janam Shrestha

An earlier recipient of the award from Nepal was Dr. Hem Baral in 2005 for his work to conserve  endemic bird species through participatory conservation at Phulchoki forest near Kathmandu.

This year, the other 15 shortlisted conservationists for the award include Shailendra Singh, Andres Link, David Kwarteng, Pablo Hoffmann from across the world providing various environmental solutions among others.

The Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN) is a UK registered charity supporting grassroots conservation leaders in the Global South. Over 29 years it has channeled £19 million to more than 200 conservationists in 80 countries. It was one of the first charities to direct funding to locally-led projects.

Its rigorous, and renowned, application process identifies inspiring individuals who combine the latest science with community-based action, to benefit wildlife, landscapes, and people.

The Whitley Awards are presented by patron HRH The Princess Royal at an annual ceremony in London. Winners receive funding, training and profile including short films narrated by Trustee, Sir David Attenborough. Whitley Award winners also join an international alumni network eligible for Continuation Funding, allowing successful conservation solutions to be scaled up. A portion of WFN’s annual Continuation Funding is directed to nature-based solutions that jointly address the climate and biodiversity crises.

‘This year we received applications of an exceptionally high standard, representing a range of conservation approaches benefitting wildlife, landscapes and people across the Global South,’ Whitley said in a statement.

Shortlisted candidates and their projects are here:

Aylin Akkaya of DMAD – Marine Mammals Research Association in Turkey

Protecting the sperm whales and Cuvier’s beaked whales of Turkey

Emmanuel Amoah of the Threatened Species Conservation Alliance in Ghana

Safeguarding the last stronghold of West African slender-snouted crocodile

Yara Barros of Pró-Carnívoros in Brazil

Jaguars of Iguaçu Project: conservation of jaguars in the Atlantic Forest

Micaela Camino of Red Agroforestal Chaco Argentina in Argentina

Empowering local communities to conserve the Chacoan peccary and the Argentine Chaco

Vreni Haussermann of Universidad San Sebastian in Chile

With Sense and Sensibility: gaining a community for conservation in Chilean Patagonia

Pablo Hoffmann of Sociedade Chauá in Brazil

Rescuing and conserving threatened species in the Araucaria Forest region

David Kwarteng of the Institute of Nature and Environmental Conservation in Ghana

Scaling up pangolin conservation

Jonathan Kwiyega of the Landscape and Conservation Mentors Organisation in Tanzania

Halting illegal lion killings in western Tanzania

Sonam Lama of the Red Panda Network in Nepal

Strengthening community-based initiatives to save the last of the first panda

Andres Link of Proyecto Primates in Colombia

Protecting brown spider monkeys in a pervasively fragmented Biodiversity Hotspot

Estrela Matilde of Fundação Príncipe in Sao Tome and Principe

Enhanced marine conservation on Príncipe Island through participatory plastic reduction efforts

Badru Mugerwa of Embaka in Uganda

Pigs, Smiles and Sounds: local community tools against poaching

Joshua Rukundo of the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance in Uganda

Conserving endangered chimpanzees in unprotected forests across western Uganda

Shailendra Singh of the Turtle Survival Alliance in India

Bringing black soft-shell turtle back from the brink in Assam

Dedy Yansyah of Forum Konservasi Leuser in Indonesia

Saving isolated Sumatran rhinos in the Eastern Leuser ecosystem

The winners of this year’s Whitley Awards will be announced live in London on Wednesday 27 April. 

Read also: Red panda on the list, Sonam Tashi Lama