George B. Schaller, Ph.D., Wildlife Conservation Society
Relentless in his pursuit to save endangered species across the globe since 1952, the world's pre-eminent field biologist, George B. Schaller, Ph.D., was named the 2008 recipient of the Indianapolis Prize, the world's leading award for animal conservation. [more...]
In recognition for his lifetime achievements, Dr. Schaller received $100,000 and the Lilly Medal at a gala ceremony presented by the AES Corporation and co-hosted by award-winning actress and environmentalist Jane Alexander and distinguished actor Sam Waterston on September 27, 2008, in Indianapolis.
As Senior Conservationist for the Wildlife Conservation Society, Dr. Schaller's successes are numerous, including his recent work with the endangered Tibetan antelope or chiru - at times slaughtered for its exquisite wool used to make shahtoosh shawls. He trekked a thousand miles across Tibet's rugged Chang Tang Reserve to study the chiru, wild yak and other wildlife and make recommendations to the Chinese government. Schaller now strives to save Marco Polo sheep, snow leopards and other wildlife and assist the nomadic local people in achieving a measure of harmony between rangelands, livestock and wildlife. He is also working to create an international peace park in the four corners of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and Tajikistan.
At age 75, Dr. Schaller shows no signs of slowing down. He has worked for months on the Tibetan Plateau at altitudes of 16,000 feet and more; traveled remote, war-torn areas of Afghanistan; and, in 2006, revisited the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the site of one of his early forays into the wild in 1956 and the start of his lifelong devotion to conservation.
Inspiring countless field biologists, notable in their own rights, Dr. Schaller has written more than 220 popular and scientific articles and 16 books, including, The Serengeti Lion: A Study of Predator-Prey Relations, a National Book Award winner. He has also helped establish more than 15 wildlife reserves throughout the world.
"No other individual exemplifies the spirit of this award better than George Schaller," said Michael Crowther, President and CEO of the Indianapolis Zoo. "He truly leads and propels others to join him in his fight to save animals everywhere, from the tigers of India to the gorillas of Rwanda."
True to his view of working with locals and an eye on the future, Schaller plans to use the Prize money to give grants to young biologists in their own countries enabling them to gain experience in wildlife research and conservation.
"George Schaller has literally defined the endeavor of wildlife biology in the service of conservation. Practically anywhere conservation is done, George has either contributed the first great scientific study or inspired a generation of scholarship and conservation activity -- or both," said Steve Sanderson, CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society. "He is the single most distinguished conservation practitioner I know, and his lifetime relationship with WCS has brought great luster to our organization." [close]
The 2008 Indianapolis Prize Finalists
The Indianapoils Prize is pleased to recognize the 2008 finalists for their outstanding work to protect and conserve the endangered animals of our planet.
Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Ph.D., Save the Elephants
As president and CEO of Save the Elephants, Douglas-Hamilton's pioneering study of the social behavior of wild elephants four decades ago in Tanzania formed the basis for all subsequent studies. In the 1970's, Douglas-Hamilton launched the first pan-African elephant survey to accurately account for the devastation of the ivory trade, resulting in a ban against it and inspiring the United States to create the African Elephant Bill, one of the most successful funding programs for elephants that continues to this day. Iain recognized the need to find solutions to reconcile elephants with the people with whom they share their land and is currently working on innovative and cost-effective methods to reduce conflicts. [close]
Rodney Jackson, Ph.D., Snow Leopard Conservancy
Jackson, director/founder of the Snow Leopard Conservancy, has received recognition for his groundbreaking radio-tracking study of snow leopards in the 1980's and his subsequent dedication to building local communities' capacity as key players in conserving the species. Jackson works tirelessly to save snow leopards from the threats of poachers and shrinking habitats, which often put the big cats in conflict with local villagers. Jackson toils alongside locals to protect livestock from snow leopards, assisting communities to predator-proof corrals, better guard their livestock and enhance local livelihoods in environmentally friendly ways. He believes local farmers who are involved in the stewardship of snow leopards offer the best long-term chance of the species' survival. [close]
K. Ullas Karanth, Ph.D., Wildlife Conservation Society
Senior conservation scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society and premier tiger expert, Karanth is pre-eminent among the new generation of India's conservationist. He has championed the cause of tigers through his groundbreaking work in India, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Karanth believes that the future of tigers depends on the rigorous protection of wildlife reserves. In India, roughly 115,000 square miles of forest remain for tigers to live and breed, and fewer than 2,000 of the big cats exist today, down from 40,000 just a century ago. Yet Karanth remains optimistic about the future of tigers and uses his scientific studies on behavior, ecology and demography to propel their conservation. [close]
Laurie Marker, Ph.D., Cheetah Conservation Fund
Founder/executive director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund, Marker has led a conservation program from humble beginnings in rural Namibia to an unparalleled model for predator conservation, an accomplishment for which Time magazine awarded her "Hero for the Planet" in 2000. In 2007 she completed a breakthrough research study on captive cheetah reproduction, producing the first ever in vitro cheetah embryos to reach early embryonic development in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution and the University of California at Davis. More recently, Marker has been using Global System for Mobile Communications collars to track cheetah movement and range on a daily basis and allow much more data to be collected than ever before. [close]
Roger Payne, Ph.D., Ocean Alliance
As founder and president of the Ocean Alliance, Payne has devoted more than 40 years to the study and protection of whales and the oceans they call home. He discovered that whales sing and that their songs propagate across oceans. His whale song recordings became immensely popular and helped launch the "Save the Whales" movement, which led to a moratorium on whaling from the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Since then, he has worked with the IWC to crate whale sanctuaries throughout the world. Payne, who had led more than 100 expeditions to all oceans, has recently complete a five-year global voyage that collected 978 skin/blubber samples from sperm whales. [close]
The 2008 Indianapolis Prize Nominees
The Nominees for the 2008 Indianapolis Prize included conservationists representing a wide range of scientific and educational programs involving animals from every corner of the globe. [more ...]
In alphabetical order:
Greg Bossart, V.M.D., Ph.D.: (Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution) Dedicated more than 20 years to improving wildlife health, spanning from birds of prey to dolphins and whales.
Michael Cranfield, D.V.M.: (Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, Inc.) Established programs to increase training and capacity of veterinary care and management of the mountain gorillas in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Ian Craig: (Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and Northern Rangelands) Mobilized enormous resources for security at a grassroots level in totally lawless areas in Kenya, enabling conservation areas to grow and thrive.
Lisa Dabek, Ph.D.: (Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle) Spearheaded the first research and habitat preservation efforts in Papua New Guinea's Huon Peninsula.
Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Ph.D.: (Save the Elephants) Founded Save the Elephants; devotes his life to the causes of elephant conservation – from testifying before Congress to leading anti-poaching aid programs in Africa.
Michael Fay, Ph.D.: (National Geographic Society/Wildlife Conservation) Established several national parks in Central Africa.
Johannes Fritz, Ph.D.: (Zoo Vienna) Tireless advocate of the critically endangered Waldrapp Ibis and founder of the Waldrapp team project to establish the bird back into its extinct migration range from Bavaria to Italy.
Elizabeth Gadsby: (Drill Rehabilitation & Breeding Center, Nigeria) Established Drill Rehabilitation & Breeding Center, considered the world's most successful captive breeding program for an endangered primate.
John Hart, Ph.D.: (Wildlife Conservation Society) Developed Monitoring Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) to inventory elephants in Africa; expanded to monitoring of other species.
Gerald Kuchling, Ph.D.: (University of Western Australia) significantly and instrumentally contributed to the conservation and recovery of three of the world's 25 most endangered turtles.
Bob Johnson: (Toronto Zoo) Founding member of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Species Survival Commission's (SSC) Declining Amphibians Task Force; empowered Canadian citizens to conserve and restore wetland habitat through the Adopt-A-Pond program.
Rodney Jackson, Ph.D.: (Snow Leopard Conservancy) Founded Snow Leopard Conservancy and involves all stakeholders in their preservation.
Ullas Karanth, Ph.D.: (Wildlife Conservation Society) Spent decades championing the cause of tigers, wildlife and wild lands in his native India.
Robert Lacy, Ph.D.: (Chicago Zoological Society) Created software to understand the influence of environmental, demographic and genetic factors on the probability of extinction of threatened species.
Jaime Jimenez, Ph.D.: (Universidad de Las Lagos, Chile) Rediscovered the short-tailed chinchillas once thought extinct in the wild.
Stephen McCulloch: (Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution) Working to construct the first teaching marine mammal hospital, science and education center.
Laurie Marker, Ph.D.: (Cheetah Conservation Fund) Founded the Cheetah Conservation Fund; led a conservation program from humble beginnings in rural Namibia to an unparalleled model for predator conservation.
David Mech, Ph.D.: (Biological Resources Division of the U.S. Geologic Survey) Leading authority on the wolf; supports wolf recovery in many countries throughout the world.
Don Merton: (New Zealand Department of Conservation) Succeeded in the rescue and recovery of several endangered species, including the Saddleback and the flightless Kakapo parrot.
Russell Mittermeier, Ph.D.: (Conservation International) Dedicated life to understanding and educating others about the worldwide threat to biodiversity.
Raman Sukumar, Ph.D.: (Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science) Extensive research on Asian elephants recognized internationally; provides scientific basis for conservation programs across Asia.
Ted Reilly: (Big Game Parks of the Kingdom of Swaziland) Spent more than 60 years in game park development and management; donated his family's property to establish Swaziland's first game reserve.
Roger Payne, Ph.D.: (The Ocean Alliance) Devoted more than 40 years to the study and protection of whales.
George Rabb: (Chicago Zoological Society) Forged the mission of the modern zoo as true conservation organizations; dedicated to confronting the current amphibian crisis.
Alan Rabinowitz, Ph.D.: (Wildlife Conservation Society) Traveled the world to research and protect jaguars, tigers and leopards; established world's first jaguar sanctuary.
Carl Safina, Ph.D.: (Blue Ocean Institute) Brought ocean conservation into the environmental mainstream.
George Schaller, Ph.D.: (Wildlife Conservation Society) Worked throughout the world with a variety of species; rediscovered two species, Vietnamese warty pig and Tibetan red deer, once thought extinct.
Simon Stuart, Ph.D.: (IUCN-World Conservation Union) Developed the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria, which assesses the extinction risk for species.
David Wingate: (Bermuda Zoological Society) Brought the Bermuda petrel or Cahow back from the brink of extinction over a 40-year period.