NOTES FROM IMCC 2011: The Whitley connection

By Dr. Amanda Vincent

I was delighted this week to have a chance to meet two other conservationists who have won Whitley Awards for grassroots nature conservation: Deepak Apte from India and Rachel Graham from Belize.

Having won the first of these awards in 1994, back in the mists of time, I have a strong interest in everybody who has won since. They always make me grateful that I applied before they were quite so well-known and competitive.

Deepak won the award in 2008, for his work to developing the capacity of Lakshadweep islanders to lead on conservation and secure their livelihoods, partly by developing enthusiasm for India’s first interconnected network of marine protected areas. He is Assistant Director with the Bombay Natural History Society.

Rachel won her award this year for her “work to protect Belize’s sharks, crucial to healthy seas and for the country’s economically important tourism industry.” She is director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Gulf and Caribbean sharks and rays programme and a member of the IUCN Shark Specialist Group.

We are now discussing getting a list of all Whitley people who focus on marine issues, as a first step towards seeing what we might all achieve collectively. We are a pretty determined bunch so I have high hopes of the synergies that should emerge.