Whitley Award for SLT Pakistan Director, Ali Nawaz

Dr Muhammad Ali Nawaz, who leads the Snow Leopard Trust’s Pakistan program and holds a faculty position at the renowned Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, has been awarded the prize for his efforts to protect the endangered snow leopard in the mountains of northern Pakistan.

London, UK / Seattle, WA: HRH The Princess Royal presented a Whitley Award, a prestigious international nature conservation prize worth £35,000 in project funding, to Muhammad Ali Nawaz (Ali) at a ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society, London yesterday, in honor of his work securing important landscapes for the protection of snow leopards in Pakistan.

Ali Nawaz was presented his Whitley Award by HRH The Princess Royal.
Ali Nawaz was presented his Whitley Award by HRH The Princess Royal.

Snow leopards are considered critically endangered in Pakistan where Ali is working in the Pamir-Karakoram mountain complex to conserve the species. Threatened by poaching, habitat degradation and subsequent decline of natural prey, snow leopards are sometimes killed by herders in retaliation to livestock predation. This loss to herders’ livelihoods can be the equivalent of a month’s salary, but through the introduction of livestock insurance and vaccination programs that buffer against livestock losses and increase tolerance, Ali is reducing human-wildlife conflict.

Ali Nawaz is Director of the Snow Leopard Foundation Pakistan, and serves as the Pakistan Program Director for the Snow Leopard Trust. He also holds a faculty position in the Department of Animal Sciences at the renowned Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, Pakistan.

With his Whitley Award Ali will bring together people, NGOs and government in a unified effort to develop a multi-stakeholder strategy for 25,000km2 of this mountainous habitat.

This will be Pakistan’s first landscape-level strategy for snow leopard conservation and will be used as a model to guide future conservation planning in the country. The project will train 50 wildlife managers, whilst engaging with 6,000 herders to enable the co-existence of communities and carnivores. Ali’s work represents one of the first steps towards the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program’s (GSLEP) goal to secure 23 important snow leopard habitats by 2020.

Click here to help fund one of Ali’s next projects for Pakistan’s snow leopards!

A wild snow leopard, caught on camera in Pakistan. Photo: Snow Leopard Foundation
A wild snow leopard, caught on camera in Pakistan. Photo: Snow Leopard Foundation

Edward Whitley, Founder of the Whitley Fund for Nature, said: “WFN focuses on conservation success stories and the progress that’s being made. The Awards Ceremony is about recognising and celebrating that – winning those small battles which cumulatively add up to significant change at the national level. In addition to the financial benefit of winning an Award, our winners receive professional communications training to turn scientists into ambassadors, so they’re able to communicate what they’re doing to the public and to policy makers.”

Ali Nawaz is the second conservationist partnering with the Snow Leopard Trust to be recognized with a Whitley Award. Current SLT Science & Conservation Director Charu Mishra won the prestigious prize in 2005. The Whitley Fund for Nature has since been a major partner in our efforts to protect the endangered snow leopard, and is currently supporting our work across the cat’s range through WFN Partnership Funding by Fondation Segré (managed by the Whitley Fund for Nature).

Ali is one of seven individuals to have been awarded a share of prize money worth £245,000 this year, winning the Whitley Award donated by The Shears Foundation in memory of Trevor Shears.

Ali Nawaz, the Snow Leopard Trust's Pakistan Program Director and a 2016 Whitley Award winner
Ali Nawaz, the Snow Leopard Trust’s Pakistan Program Director and a 2016 Whitley Award winner

Other winners in the 2016 Whitley Awards are:

Gilbert Baase Adum – Ghana
Saving Ghana’s frogs: a giant leap forward for biodiversity conservation
The Whitley Award donated by Sarah Chenevix-Trench

Farwiza Farhan – Indonesia
Citizen lawsuits: defending local livelihoods and Sumatra’s iconic species in the Leuser Ecosystem
The Whitley Award for Conservation in Ape Habitats donated by the Arcus Foundation

Makala Jasper – Tanzania
Forest stewardship: community conservation of coastal forests in the greater Selous Ecosystem, Tanzania
The Whitley Award donated by WWF-UK

Karau Kuna – Papa New Guinea
Tree kangaroos as a flagship to protect Papua New Guinea’s spectacular wildlife
The Whitley Award donated by The William Brake Charitable Trust in memory of William Brake

Alexander Rukhaia – Georgia
Magnificent migrants: safeguarding birds-of-prey negotiating the Batumi Flyway, Georgia
The Whitley Award donated by the Garfield Weston Foundation

Juliette Velosoa – Madagascar
Saving the Critically Endangered side-necked turtle and its freshwater habitat, Madagascar
The Whitley Award donated by the Garden House School Parents’ Association

Sir David Attenborough, a Trustee of the Whitley Fund for Nature, added: “Empowering local people, who understand what the problems are, and who have the local knowledge, determination and vested interest to find the solutions is the very best way to ensure long term protection for the natural world.”

HRH The Princess Royal will also present the 2016 Whitley Gold Award – a prestigious profile and funding prize awarded to a previous Whitley Award winner in recognition of their outstanding contribution to conservation. The Whitley Gold Award is donated by The Friends and Scottish Friends of the Whitley Fund for Nature and is worth £50,000.

This year’s recipient is 2011 Whitley Award winner, Hotlin Ompusunggu for her project – ‘Dentistry and reforestation: scaling up models to protect orangutans and improve health, Borneo’. Unusually for a conservationist, Hotlin is a dental surgeon. Her NGO, Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI) is providing healthcare incentives for local people to reduce the need to exploit rainforest habitat in Indonesia.

Since Hotlin won a Whitley Award in 2011, the project has seen a significant decrease in illegal logging whilst improving the health of 24,000 people living around Gunung Palung National Park – home to 10% of the world’s orangutans. Hotlin’s Gold Award will enable her to work with Park authorities to manage this important habitat, as well as establish Indonesia’s first ‘conservation hospital’ and explore expansion of the model to other potential sites across the country. Joining the Judging Panel to assist in winner selection, the Gold Award winner also acts as mentor to the new Whitley Award winners.

The Snow Leopard Trust congratulates all winners on their outstanding achievements to save the planet’s biodiversity, and thanks the Whitley Fund for Nature as well as all other partners and donors for their generous support.

Visit www.whitleyaward.org to find out more.

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