London, UK | 8 May 2014 – Ewaso Lions is deeply honoured to announce that Shivani has won a 2014 Whitley Award. She is in London today to receive the award which will be presented by HRH The Princess Royal at the Royal Geographical Society.
Shivani is one of eight exceptional individuals (listed below) to receive the award. The Whitley Awards are prestigious international prizes presented to individuals in recognition of their achievements in nature conservation. Each Award Winner receives a prize worth up to £35,000 to be spent over one year. Shivani won the award in honour of Ewaso Lions’ work to promote human-lion co-existence amongst the nomadic pastoralists and lions of Northern Kenya. In total, the Whitley Fund for Nature will be giving £280,000 (approx. $475,000) to the eight winners. The portion of funds given to Ewaso Lions’s conservation work comes specifically from The Garden House School Parents’ Association.
Sir David Attenborough, a Trustee of the Whitley Fund for Nature, said: “Whitley Award winners are successful because they don’t just watch and measure – they act! They are the conservation experts – not us – they know what to do and, more importantly, how to get it done.”
Edward Whitley, Founder of The Whitley Fund for Nature, says: “We recognise that wildlife and habitat conservation in developing countries cannot be successful without the involvement of people at the grassroots level. Although they each face remarkable and different challenges in their home countries, these individuals are passionate about the natural world and remain determined to involve local communities in making a long-term difference.”
Shivani is deeply grateful for this accolade and said, “Winning the Whitley Award allows my project, Ewaso Lions, to engage more Samburu warriors in conservation. We will be able to build on the success of this program and expand our area of coverage to create a vast network of warriors protecting lions across northern Kenya’s arid lands. I would like to dedicate this award to my team in Samburu – a group of special young warriors who risk their lives to save lions. They are the real wildlife heroes and it is a great privilege for me to work with them.”
Other winners in the 2014 Whitley Awards are:
• Tess Gatan-Balbas – Taking local action to save the world’s rarest crocodile in the Philippines, Whitley Award donated by WWF-UK
• Monica Gonzalez – Community conservation of the long-wattled umbrellabird and its disappearing habitat in Ecuador, Whitley Award donated by Sarah Chenevix-Trench
• Melvin Gumal – Protecting Borneo’s iconic great apes: Conservation of orang-utans in Sarawak, Malaysia, Whitley Award for Conservation in Ape Habitats, donated by the Arcus Foundation
• Paula Kahumbu – Hands off our elephants: Delivering African leadership to address Kenya’s poaching crisis, Whitley Award donated by The LJC Fund in memory of Anthea and Lindsey Turner
• Fitry Pakiding – Uniting coastal communities to secure the last stronghold of Pacific leatherback turtles in the Bird’s Head Seascape, West Papua, Indonesia, Whitley Award donated by The Shears Foundation
• Stoycho Stoychev – The Imperial Eagle as a flagship for conserving the wild grasslands of south-eastern Bulgaria, Whitley Award donated by Fondation Segré
• Luis Torres – Building a national movement to protect Cuba’s amazing plant life, Whitley Award donated by The William Brake Charitable Trust in memory of William Brake
About the Whitley Award
The Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN) is a UK registered charity that champions outstanding grassroots leaders in nature conservation across the developing world. The Whitley Awards have been presented annually since 1994. Since then, the Whitley Fund for Nature has given over £10 million to conservation and recognised more than 160 conservation leaders in over 70 countries.
WFN operates a rigorous application process involving expert panel representation from international NGOs including WWF-UK and Fauna and Flora International. This year, WFN received nearly 200 applications which passed through four stages of assessment, reviewed at every step by the expert screeners and panellists who kindly offer their expertise voluntarily.
Shivani Bhalla, 36, is the founder and Director of Ewaso Lions, an NGO created in 2007. Human-wildlife conflict is a major cause of lion decline in Kenya, when lions attack livestock, and herders retaliate by killing lions and other large carnivores. Kenya’s lion population is now less than 2,000 individuals and could become extinct within the next two decades.
Shivani’s work with local communities to promote human-carnivore co-existence, includes the innovative and successful Warrior Watch programme. Empowering young Samburu warriors to become ‘ambassadors’ for lions has transformed the way in which locals view these large carnivores and by popular demand, this scheme now includes the “Mama Simba” programme, involving local women in grass-roots conservation for the first time.
Moving to Samburu National Reserve in 2002, for the last 11 years Shivani has lived in a small tent in very rustic conditions, while undertaking her research and conservation activities. By spreading awareness; capacity building through training, providing jobs and education; as well as equipping local people with the tools and knowledge to protect their livestock – Shivani is helping people to realise the value of lions and other wildlife to the ecosystems and economic health of their areas.
UK — For further information or to arrange interviews contact Firebird PR: Jane Bevan or Susannah Penn at Firebird PR on +00 44 01235 835297 / +00 44 07977 459547 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
USA — Contact Paul Thomson, Ewaso Lions Managing Director, at email@example.com