Palawan environmental leader is finalist for int’l award

Philippine Cockatoo / “Katala” (Cacatua haematuropygia). (FILE PHOTO//Celso S. Quiling/PCSDS)

A Palawan conservationist and environmental leader has been included in the shortlist for the prestigious Whitley Fund for Nature Award (WFN). Palawan conservationist Indira Lacerna-Widmann, who heads the Katala Foundation, has been picked from among the 169 hopefuls around the globe and is now part of the six finalists for what is dubbed as the ‘Green Oscar’ awards.

In an e-mail sent to Palawan News by Jana Fickerova of WFN, Widmann, along with other finalists, are invited to the awards nights on May 17, 2017 at the Royal Geographical Society in London, United Kingdom.

We are excited to announce that this year’s shortlist of six finalists for the annual Whitley Awards includes Ms. Indira Lacerna-Widmann, an outstanding conservationist who works in the Philippines to protect the country’s spectacular wildlife and redefines the way local people engage with the natural world in the 21st century,” said the email.

Widmann is particularly recognized for her effort in partnering with prisoners to safeguard the Critically Endangered Philippine cockatoo or Katala. Her team at the Katala Foundation, a non-profit group, has been instrumental in actively protecting and conserving endemic wildlife in Palawan, mainly for the said bird species.

This year’s golden award goes to Zafer Kizilkaya, for his ground-breaking work in Gokova Bay in Turkey. Zafer and his team have created a network of marine reserves for restoring underwater ecosystems to protect endangered species such as the Critically Endangered monk seal. Zafer’s team also works with local fishing communities to boost income through the introduction of sustainable fishing practices.

Other finalists include the following:

• Purnima Barman (India) – inspiring women to protect Assam’s greater adjutant and its wetland habitat
• Sanjay Gubbi (India) – reducing deforestation in Karnataka’s tiger corridors
• Ian Little (South Africa) – custodians of South Africa’s threatened grassland biodiversity
• Pilar Alexander Blanco Márquez (Venezuela) – nest guardians, conserving Venezuela’s magnificent harpy eagles as a rainforest flagship
• Ximena Velez-Liendo (Bolivia) – enabling coexistence of spectacled bears and farmers in the Bolivian Andes.

The Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN) is a UK-registered charity offering Whitley Awards and ongoing support to outstanding nature conservationists around the developing world. WFN gives funding, training and recognition to local conservation leaders working in resource-poor, biodiversity-rich countries.

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