Wildlife biologist Aparajita Datta’s project to save the hornbills of Arunachal Pradesh has been short-listed for the Whitley Awards 2013 to be held on May 2 at the Royal Geographical Society, London. UK based charity — Whitley Fund for Nature has announced the shortlist of seven finalists for the Green Oscars, an annual high profile of conservation prize that honours exceptional individuals working in contributions to grassroots nature conservation made across the developing world.
Her project, “threatened hornbills as icons for the conservation of the Himalayan forests of Arunachal Pradesh, India” is among the seven finalists for the Rs 2 crore (£245,000) prize. The state is home to five species of hornbills including the globally endangered rufous-necked hornbill and the brown hornbill. With more than 80% of its geographic area under forest cover, the state is most important for hornbill conservation in India. The species face significant levels of threats from hunting and habitat degradation/loss.
The charity’s patron ‘the princess royal’ will announce the final results and also present an additional prize, the Whitley gold award worth £50,000, to Ça?an ?ekercio?lu of Turkey, a past award winner who has used his grant money to particularly outstanding effect in supporting Turkey’s first ever wildlife corridor.
“This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Whitley Awards – an international competition, first held in 1994 and often dubbed — Green Oscars, because it celebrates the extraordinary achievements of some of the world’s leading conservationists working in developing countries”, says the awards official website.
Over the past two decades, the Whitley fund for nature has given almost £10 million to conservation and recognised 160 conservation leaders in more than 70 countries.
Hornbill is the state bird of both Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.