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Laura Williams Award 2020
WINNERS ANNOUNCED FOR LAURA WILLIAMS AWARD FOR WILDLIFE CONSERVATION
The Selection Committee of the new WWF-Russia Award named the best young specialists in wildlife conservation. Laura Williams Award was granted to four ecologists and scientists from different regions.
Laura Williams Award, established in memory of the founder of WWF-Russia, is granted to young professionals for their outstanding achievements in wildlife conservation in Russia. This is the first year of the award.
'We received a whole constellation of entries from bright young scientists and environmentalists representing various protected areas, scientific and educational centers, environmental funds, and other organizations. These are genuinely dedicated wildlife conservationists, mature, enthusiastic, and persevering. Choosing the best of them was not an easy task,' – said Pyotr Gorbunenko, Managing Director at WWF-Russia.
Laura Williams Award was granted to four ecologists and scientists from different regions.
The first place
Elena Shnayder, an expert biologist at Sibecocenter.
Elena Shnayder is an ornithologist, Ph.D of Biology, expert on feathered predators. Elena is in charge of the program to restore genetic diversity of saker falcon in the Altai-Sayan region. Nestlings bred in the nursery are planted in the nests of wild birds, which are located high up on rocks and trees. Over the three years of the project, 50 saker falcons have been released into nature. In addition, Elena's keen participation allowed including the steppe eagle on the IUCN Red List. She also helped to establish and coordinate the Novosibirsk Rehabilitation Center for Birds of Prey.
The second place
Alexey Kuzhlekov, researcher at the Department for Science, Tourism and Recreation at the Sailyugemsky National Park.
Alexey Kuzhlekov is a leading expert in the study and conservation of snow leopard and Altai mountain ram in the Altai Republic. Scientific data collected by Alexey during his expeditions laid the groundwork for the Snow Leopard Conservation Strategy in the Russian Federation and the Snow Leopard Monitoring Program in Russia and Central Asia. In 2018, Alexey was directly involved in the development and testing of a specialized mobile application for snow leopard population tracking. Alexey and the team of the Sailyugemsky National Park helped to stabilize the snow leopard situation in the Argut river basin and the largest predator group in Russia has returned to dwell here. Most recently, Alexey has become the first person to film this secretive cat close-up in Russia.
The third place
The third place was shared by two nominees with the same number of points.
Alexey Levashkin, ornithologist.
Alexey Levashkin is an ornithologist, a talented wildlife photographer and a popular blogger. It is thanks to his efforts that rare species of birds continue to nest in the Volga region: Ural owl, Siberian gray owl, tawny owl, osprey, red-footed falcon, and even azure tit and roller. Since 2008, Alexey has built over a thousand nests for them. Over the past 15 years, Levashkin's research has allowed introducing more than 300 previously unknown habitats of rare animals and plants into the Cadastre and protecting these sites fr om destruction. Alexey takes a prominent role in promoting the cause of nature conservation, runs a popular blog, and his photos made it to the finals of the Golden Turtle International Wildlife Photography Competition in 2011 and 2014.
Alexandra Khlopotova, Deputy Director for Research and Environmental Education at the Visim Nature Reserve.
Alexandra Khlopotova works on the study and conservation of the red-listed peregrine falcon. Through her efforts, the rocks on the Chusovaya River, wh ere these birds' perennial nests are located, have gained the status of an important natural landscape. She is engaged in mounting of artificial nests for peregrine falcon. She has repeatedly participated in raids to detain poachers taking nestlings from the natural environment. She is also active in scientific and popularization work.
The prize fund is made up of private donations from around the world, from those who knew Laura Williams or are aware of her work. The date and venue of the Award Ceremony will be announced later.