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Ornithologists Jim Kushlan, Dee Boersma, Carl Jones nominated for 2012 Indianapolis Award

Fern Davies

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James A. Kushlan Nominated for the 2012 Indianapolis Prize

Savior of waterbirds vies for prestigious international honor and $100,000 award



INDIANAPOLIS --- Poachers, disease, civil wars, heat, cold, rain, drought, pollution, ignorance,

indifference. Those are just some of the challenges faced by the 29 conservationists who have

devoted their lives to saving the Earth’s endangered species and who have been nominated to receive

the biennial Indianapolis Prize, the world’s leading award for animal conservation. James A.

Kushlan, Ph.D., is one of them. Kushlan, co-founder of HeronConservation, the IUCN Heron Specialist Group, has been recognized for his long career in waterbird conservation. Early on in his career, Kushlan noticed the need for a research and conservation network for the heron species, leading to the 1984 founding of HeronConservation, which has guided heron conservation for more than 25 years. Years later, he started the North American Waterbird Conservation Initiative which spawned the 2004 North

American Waterbird Conservation Plan. Kushlan served as the primary author of the plan, which

guides sustainability of more than 200 species from Canada through the Caribbean. He also

previously held the position of director of the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.


The work of all the Indianapolis Prize nominees spans the globe, representing a range of species and

locales. The Nominating Committee will review the applications and select six finalists, who will be

announced in the spring of 2012. The Prize Jury will then determine the winner, who will be

announced in mid-2012 and honored at the next Indianapolis Prize Gala presented by Cummins,

Sept. 29, 2012, at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis. In addition to receiving the $100,000 Prize, the recipient is also awarded 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 2010 Indianapolis Prize was awarded to legendary elephant advocate Iain Douglas-Hamilton. His accomplishments span decades and continents, bringing global attention to the issue of blood ivory and inspiring others to join the battle against poachers and traders. “Douglas-Hamilton has set a high bar, but the current nominees are remarkable,” said Michael Crowther, president and CEO of the Indianapolis Zoo, the organization responsible for initiating the conservation award. “Each conservationist has his or her own unique story and has made significant contributions toward the preservation and awareness of Earth’s precious wildlife.”



In alphabetical order, the outstanding nominees for the 2012 Indianapolis Prize are:

  • Steven C. Amstrup, Ph.D.: (Polar Bears International) Directed research that led to the 2008 listing of polar bears as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act; developed infrared technology to locate polar bear dens under the snow
  • P. Dee Boersma, Ph.D.: (University of Washington, Seattle; Center for Penguins as Ocean Sentinels). Since 1970s has studied and documented impact of global warming on penguins, and successfully stopped harmful harvesting and development through penguin colonies.
  • Markus Borner, Ph.D.: (Frankfurt Zoological Society) Champion for the Serengeti ecosystem and its endangered black rhinos through biodiversity conservation and ecologically sustainable development; established the first Community Conservation Program in the Serengeti.
  • Robert Buchanan: (Polar Bears International) Leader in polar bear conservation and champion for the Arctic; created PBI’s Tundra Connections™ educational program that broadcasts live programs over the Internet into classrooms around the world.
  • Gerardo Ceballos, Ph.D.: (Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) Champion for jaguars in Mexico, conducting the first country-level jaguar census and the most comprehensive jaguar study to date; finalist for the 2010 Indianapolis Prize.
  • Lisa Dabek, Ph.D.: (Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program; Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle) Founder of the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program; responsible for the first Conservation Area in Papua New Guinea; used Crittercam© technology for the first time on arboreal mammals that allows scientists to record animal behavior through mounted video cameras and transmitters.
  • Jaret Daniels, Ph.D.: (University of Florida, Florida Museum of Natural History; IFAS Department of Entomology and Nematology) Butterfly conservationist dedicated to assisting imperiled butterfly species recovery; formed the Florida Butterfly Monitoring Network, a statewide citizen-scientist program that trains volunteers and directly engages researchers.
  • Karen L. Eckert, Ph.D.: (WIDECAST: Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network) Dedicated to research, multilateral marine resource management and the international conservation policies for sea turtles for more than three decades.
  • Lisa Hywood: (Tikki Hywood Trust) Works tirelessly to preserve Zimbabwe’s wildlife – including captive breeding, management and monitored release of endangered species and conservation education in underprivileged, rural areas.
  • Rodney Jackson, Ph.D.: (Snow Leopard Conservancy) Conducted an in-depth radio-tracking study of snow leopards in the 1980s; dedicated to building local communities’ capacity as key players in conserving the species; finalist for the 2008 and 2010 Indianapolis Prize.
  • Charlene Jendry: (Columbus Zoo and Aquarium) Responsible for numerous initiatives that have had a positive impact on survival of mountain gorillas and resulted in significantly reduced poaching and deforestation.
  • Carl Jones, Ph.D.: (Mauritian Wildlife Foundation) Biologist who pioneered the techniques of applied population management to reverse the decline of the most endangered species; instrumental in the creation of the first national park in Mauritius; involved in the recovery of five bird species coming from populations of less than ten.
  • James A. Kushlan, Ph.D.: (HeronConservation, the IUCN Heron Specialist Group) Co-founded the IUCN Heron Specialist Group; primary author of the 2004 North American Waterbird Conservation Plan which systemized the conservation needs of more than 200 species from Canada through the Caribbean.
  • Robert C. Lacy, Ph.D.: (Chicago Zoological Society; IUCN Conservation Breeding Specialist Group) Developed analytical techniques and software for optimal genetic management of wildlife populations while pioneering research on the importance of genetic diversity.
  • David W. Macdonald, D.Sc.: (WildCRU: Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, University of Oxford) Pioneered the scientific basis of practical conservation, establishing conservation biology as a science among European universities by founding WildCRU in 1986; specializes in wild carnivore research and was the founder and, for 25 years, chairman of the IUCN’s Canid Specialist Group.
  • Laurie Marker, D.Phil.: (Cheetah Conservation Fund) Founded the Cheetah Conservation Fund; led a conservation program from humble beginnings in rural Namibia to an unparalleled model for predator conservation; finalist for the 2008 and 2010 Indianapolis Prize.
  • Sharon Matola: (Belize Zoo) Founder of the Belize Zoo; spearheading Belize’s environmental education on behalf of jaguars.
  • Charles Mayhew, MBE: (Tusk Trust) African ecosystem conservationist who co-founded Tusk Trust in 1990; backed the launch of a collection of community-managed conservancies now covering 3 million acres in northern Kenya and instigated the acclaimed PACE, Pan African environmental education initiative.
  • Russell A. Mittermeier, Ph.D.: (Conservation International) Visionary leader able to motivate every level of conservationist to support the greater good of many species, including primates; one of the first academic primatologists to become concerned with the welfare and conservation of primates.
  • George B. Rabb, Ph.D.: (Chicago Zoological Society) Leading amphibian conservationist in halting the species’ decline; facilitated discovery of the chytrid fungus that has been called the most devastating animal disease ever recorded.
  • Alan Rabinowitz, Ph.D.: (Panthera) Large cat conservationist whose dedication to the species has led to the development of multiple protected areas across the globe; conducted the first-ever radio telemetry research on Asiatic leopards, Asian leopard cats and civets.
  • Terri Lynn Roth, Ph.D.: (Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden) Tireless researcher and advocate for rhino survival worldwide; achieved the scientific breakthrough that led to successful breeding in 2001 of the first Sumatran rhino calf to be produced in human care in 112 years; founder of the Sumatran Rhino Global Management and Propagation Board.
  • Carl Safina, Ph.D.: (Blue Ocean Institute) Brought ocean conservation into the environmental mainstream by using science, art and literature to inspire a “sea ethic;” finalist for the 2010 Indianapolis Prize.
  • Joel D. Sartore: (National Geographic) Photojournalist with mission to give vanishing species and habitats a voice before they’re gone forever; co-founder of The Grassland Foundation.
  • Anne Savage, Ph.D.: (Disney’s Animal Kingdom) Blending conservation and education with innovative programs in South America, including the “eco-mochila” initiative that reduces pollution and creates jobs.
  • Claudio Sillero, Ph.D.: (University of Oxford) Founder and director of the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme, keeping watch over Africa's rarest and most endangered carnivore.
  • Jim Thomas: (Tenkile Conservation Alliance) Tripled the endangered Tenkile (tree kangaroo) population from 100 to 300 animals in eight years.
  • Charlie Welch: (Duke Lemur Center) Nurtured a Madagascar forest station into a multi-faceted conservation center with long-term programs of lemur captive husbandry, environment education, reforestation, sustainable agriculture, training/capacity building and other components.
  • Patricia Wright, Ph.D.: (Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments) Discovered the golden bamboo lemur in 1986, a species that was then unknown to science, which helped to catalyze the transformation of Madagascar’s park systems, turning it into a model for global conservation efforts.

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