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Journalists win environmental news reporting prizes

Mongabay announces its first annual top contributor prizes for 2013.

Mongabay’s internship program has benefited from the hard work and great environmental reporting of more than 30 writing interns since the program’s inception in July 2012. This year, Mongabay asked this pool of contributing authors to submit their most compelling piece out of over 150 articles. The submissions were then reviewed by a panel.

The winning article is an investigative piece by Tanya Dimitrova, on the removal of eight nearly-extinct pygmy sloths from a Panamanian island earlier this year. The incident and piece weren’t without controversy, but Dimitrova’s excellent article highlighted the complicated and nuanced world of removing animals from their natural habitat for captive breeding. Dimitrova’s award was accompanied by a $500 prize.

Second place, along with a prize of $300, goes to Mrinalini Erkenswick Watsa for her piece on mercury pollution from gold-mining in the Amazon. The article was meticulously researched by Erkenswick Watsa and included photographs taken by the author during her time in Peru. Erkenswick Watsa has a PhD in biological anthropology and is a founder of the long-term research group PrimatesPeru.

Illegal gold mine established in 2009 in the department of Madre de Dios. This mine encroaches on Tambopata Reserve. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.
Illegal gold mine established in 2009 in the department of Madre de Dios. This mine encroaches on Tambopata Reserve. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.

There was a tie for third place, which comes with a prize of $200. The first is a moving piece by Shreya Dasgupta and Abhishek Madan about the rehabilitation of India’s dancing sloth bears. Compellingly written and accompanied with beautiful photos, the piece paints not only an engaging portrait of these captive bears, but also a look at the socioeconomic conditions that kept bears dancing in India until recently. Based in India, Dasgupta and Madan spend their time as freelance environmental writers as well as doing scientific research.

The second entry to garner the 3rd place prize is titled Losing our monarchs: iconic monarch butterfly down to lowest numbers in 20 years and was written by Lacey Avery. The article takes a broad look at the crisis facing the great monarch migration across North America, which has become increasingly imperiled by habitat loss—linked to agricultural policy and GMO crops—in the U.S. and Canada. Avery holds a masters degree in journalism and mass communications and is currently a health communications specialist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). Photo courtesy of Kenneth Dwain Harrelson. Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). Photo courtesy of Kenneth Dwain Harrelson.

Runners up:

Honorable mentions:

Mongabay accepts applications to their internship program on a rolling basis. The commitment is generally 5-15 hours a week for six months. Internships are currently unpaid, however, Mongabay offers resume/cover letter workshops, Q&A calls with Mongabay staff, publishing experience and other opportunities for participating interns. If you are interested, please send a cover letter, resume, and writing sample to Tiffany Roufs at tiffany [at] mongabay [dot] org.

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