Ranger blogging network wins accolade for efforts to drive support for conservation.
WildlifeDirect, a group that promotes conservation through blogging by rangers and scientists, has won mongabay.com’s “Innovation in Conservation Award” for 2009. The prize, which includes a cash donation and and prominent placement on the mongabay.com web site and newsletter for the month of December, is granted each year to an organization using an unconventional and highly effective approach to conserving forests and biodiversity.
“We’re thrilled to win Mongabay’s Innovation in Conservation Award,” said Paula Kahumbu, Executive Director of WildlifeDirect.
WildlifeDirect provides a platform to more than 100 wildlife bloggers in dozens of countries across Africa, Asia, and South America. Through their posts, which often include photos and videos, WildlifeDirect bloggers provide first-hand information from the front lines of conservation, building awareness for their projects and a means for attracting contributions, which are used from everything from paying ranger salaries to buying field supplies. WildlifeDirect bloggers are also news-makers; they have broken a number of stories since the site debuted in 2006, including the 2007 slaying of seven mountain gorillas in Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park and last year’s invasion of Virunga by rebels. WildlifeDirect bloggers have documented births of endangered species in the wild and reported on new threats to parks and wildlife.
WildlifeDirect training current conservationists, future bloggers. Photos courtesy of WildlifeDirect.
(08/17/2009) Founded in 2004 by legendary conservationist Richard Leakey, WildlifeDirect is an innovative member of the conservation community. WildlifeDirect is really a meta-organization: it gathers together hundreds of conservation initiatives who blog regularly about the trials and joys of practicing on-the-ground conservation. From stories of gorillas reintroduced in the wild to tracking elephants in the Okavango Delta to saving sea turtles in Sumatra, WildlifeDirect provides the unique experience of actually hearing directly from scientists and conservationists worldwide.
But WildlifeDirect is going beyond helping wildlife and protected areas. Through computer training and other support, the group brings new opportunities to communities that are often poor and isolated.
The story of 23 year old Antony Kasanga is just one example of the power of the WildlifeDirect network. Antony is a Maasai warrior who helps save lions with his community in southern Kenya. Through WildlifeDirect, his group, the Lion Guardians, are no longer alone. His blog has a following of hundreds each day, and through it he has not only raised funds, but also international recognition for saving lions. The value of Antony’s online network of friends goes beyond funds; through a reader on his blog Antony found out about a scholarship opportunity and was able to go to Oxford University.
But 2009 has been a difficult year for WildlifeDirect, with donations of all kinds down sharply due to the global financial slowdown. The group relies heavily on small donations from thousands of supporters.
“We aim for micro donations from a large network of friends,” said Kahumbu. “Anyone can interact, participate, and donate from anywhere in the world. We believe that virtually anyone anywhere can give a little to something they care about, and people give to us because we provide real-time transparency and accountability through blogs so that donors can see their money at work.”
Earlier Innovation in Conservation Award winners
(12/08/2008) Health in Harmony was today awarded mongabay.com's annual "Innovation in Conservation" award for its unique approach to conservation which combats illegal logging by providing healthcare and sustainable livelihoods to communities living around Gunung Palung National Park in Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo. The award includes a cash grant and prominent placement on the mongabay.com web site and newsletter for the month of December. Health in Harmony is working to break an impoverishing cycle of illegal logging and deforestation by offering healthcare rewards to encourage the villagers to protect the national park, rather than log it. The effort seems to be paying off: since launching a 'forests-for-healthcare' incentive program in September, 18 of 21 communities have signed a moratorium of understanding agreeing to participate.
(12/11/2007) The Amazon conservation Team (ACT) was today awarded mongabay.com’s inaugural “Innovation in conservation Award” for its path-breaking efforts to enable indigenous Amazonians to maintain ties to their history and cultural traditions while protecting their rainforest home from illegal loggers and miners.