Six Heroes Now Vie for Quarter of a Million Dollars in World's Leading Award for Animal Conservation
Arlington, Va. USA -
Today, Conservation International President Russell A. Mittermeier, Ph.D. was named as one of six conservationists advancing as a finalist for the 2014 Indianapolis Prize, the world's leading award for animal conservation. Selected from a group of 39 nominees, Mittermeier is in the running for $250,000 along with Joel Berger, Ph.D.; Gerardo Ceballos, Ph.D.; Carl Jones, Ph.D.; Carl Safina, Ph.D.; and Patricia C. Wright, Ph.D. These heroes were nominated by their peers and named finalists for their outstanding achievements on behalf of the world's most endangered species.
"Russ and the other finalists are among the most important wildlife conservationists working in the field today," said Michael Crowther, president and CEO of the Indianapolis Zoo, which initiated the Indianapolis Prize as part of its core mission. Russ and the other finalists are achieving real victories in saving animal species, creating hope and outlining a path for generations of conservationists around the world to follow. We are delighted that they are finalists for the Indianapolis Prize, the world's leading award for animal conservation.
The winner of the Prize will receive an unrestricted $250,000 cash award and the Lilly Medal, an original work of art that signifies the winner's contributions to conserving some of the world's most threatened animals. The remaining five finalists will each receive $10,000. The Indianapolis Prize jury, made up of distinguished conservation leaders, will determine the winner of the 2014 Indianapolis Prize, who will be announced in mid-2014 and honored at the next Indianapolis Prize Gala presented by Cummins Inc., to be held September 27, 2014 in Indianapolis.
Russ Mittermeier - Conservation Hero
A classical biologist, Mittermeier has discovered 12 species new to science and contributed to the conservation of some of the Earth's most critically threatened places. His dedication to protecting global biodiversity hotspots is why Mittermeier has advanced as a finalist for the 2014 Indianapolis Prize.
Whether shaking the hands of world leaders, traipsing through the rainforests of Brazil, Suriname or Madagascar, or orchestrating agreements between heads of state, local tribes, or multinational corporations, there is perhaps no person on Earth quite like Russ Mittermeier. This Time magazine "Hero of the Planet" is fondly referenced as the Indiana Jones of animal conservation, yet his early inspiration was drawn from Tarzan, the fictional hero symbolizing the unity of man and nature. Mittermeier is now a hero in his own right as the only active field biologist to head a major international conservation organization, Conservation International.
Mittermeier was one of the first academic primatologists to become concerned with the conservation of primates, spearheading local investment and education efforts to ensure their survival in the wild. Today, primates are an international symbol of conservation, and science now knows significantly more about prosimians, monkeys and apes thanks to his work.
Mittermeier has also placed great emphasis on publishing to get the word out as widely as possible, in scientific and popular outlets. He has more than 650 popular and scientific articles and 26 books to his credit, the most recent being a 900-page compendium on all known primates, illustrating for the first time every known species and subspecies.
Mittermeier focused on the term "biodiversity hotspots" in his book, "Hotspots: Earth's Biologically Richest and Most Endangered Terrestrial Ecoregions." First developed by the world-renowned British ecologist Norman Myers in 1988, this world-recognized term simply means an area that is extremely biologically diverse, rich in endemic species found nowhere else, and in immediate need of conservation due to extreme threats. Mittermeier feels strongly that the world's 34 biodiversity hotspots are the keystone to true biodiversity conservation, extinction avoidance, and ultimately human well-being as well through maintenance of critical ecosystem services that derive from this biodiversity. His attention to these areas has significantly helped habitat and animal conservation efforts across the globe and helped to improve the lot of remote human communities as well.
"Russ Mittermeier has done more to ensure the survival of endangered primates than anyone else on the planet. By promoting primates as a flagship species, he also has had an incredible global impact on the conservation of biological diversity", said Bill Konstant of the International Rhino Foundation. There may well be other intelligent, driven, and selfless people in this field, but only a handful [of conservationists] are capable of mobilizing a global army for conservation. Russ Mittermeier is at the top of that group.
Mittermeier was born in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and went on to Dartmouth College, where he graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1971. He completed his graduate work at Harvard University, and received his doctorate in biological anthropology there in 1977. He currently resides and works in Virginia.
The Indianapolis Prize was first awarded in 2006 to George Archibald, Ph.D., the co-founder of the International Crane Foundation
. The 2008 winner was George Schaller, Ph.D., senior conservationist for the Wildlife Conservation Society
and an icon in field conservation around the world. In 2010, the Indianapolis Prize was awarded to Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Ph.D., founder of Save the Elephants
, who pioneered research in elephant social behavior and has led the way in fighting poaching of African elephants. Steven Amstrup, Ph.D., of Polar Bears International
, received the 2012 Indianapolis Prize for his field work and research that led the United States to declare polar bears as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
To learn more about each of the finalists, how you can support their work and the Indianapolis Prize, please visit indianapolisprize.org
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The Indianapolis Prize
was initiated by the Indianapolis Zoo
as a significant component of its mission to empower people and communities, both locally and globally, to advance animal conservation. This biennial award brings the world's attention to the cause of animal conservation and the brave, talented and dedicated men and women who spend their lives saving the Earth's endangered animal species. The Indianapolis Prize has received support from the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation since its inception in 2006.
Conservation International (CI) -
Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature, our global biodiversity, for the well-being of people. Founded in 1987, CI is headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area and employs more than 800 staff in 30 countries on six continents, and has nearly 1,000 partners around the world. For more information, please visit our website at: www.conservation.org
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