INDIANAPOLIS, March 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --Six of animal conservation's best have been selected as finalists for the 2012 Indianapolis Prize, the world's leading award for animal conservation. Selected from a group of 29 outstanding nominees, the finalists are Steven C. Amstrup, Ph.D., Markus Borner, Ph.D., Rodney Jackson, Ph.D., Carl Jones, Ph.D., Russell A. Mittermeier, Ph.D. and Patricia Wright, Ph.D. These heroes of animal conservation were nominated by their peers and chosen for their exceptional achievements on behalf of endangered or at-risk species across the globe.
"These conservationists' long-standing commitment and die-hard perseverance to protect endangered species and their environments embodies the mission of the Indianapolis Prize. We are honored to recognize their efforts," said Indianapolis Prize Chair Myrta Pulliam.
The Prize Jury, made up of distinguished conservation leaders, will determine the winner of the 2012 Indianapolis Prize. In addition to receiving a $100,000 award, the recipient is also bestowed 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 Prize will be awarded at the Indianapolis Prize Gala presented by Cummins Inc., Sept. 29, 2012, at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis. The 2010 biennial Indianapolis Prize was awarded to Iain Douglas-Hamilton, founder and CEO of Save the Elephants and legendary conservation figure.
ABOUT THE FINALISTS
Steven C. Amstrup, Ph.D.: (Polar Bears International) As senior scientist at Polar Bears International, Steve Amstrup is universally regarded as the most important and influential scientist working on polar bear conservation today. Amstrup led the international team of researchers whose nine reports became the basis for the 2008 listing of polar bears as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. This listing is significant because the polar bear is the first species to be listed on the basis of threats posed by global warming, and Amstrup's groundwork has increased worldwide awareness to help save the species.
Markus Borner, Ph.D.: (Frankfurt Zoological Society) Never hesitating to shoulder ambitious, complex and also seemingly hopeless rhino rehabilitation projects, Markus Borner's efforts have led to the release of 32 black rhinos from South Africa back into their natural habitat, the Serengeti. This marks the world's largest reintroduction project, initiated in 2010 with the translocation of the first five rhinos.
Rodney Jackson, Ph.D.: (Snow Leopard Conservancy) A three-time finalist for the Indianapolis Prize, Rodney Jackson is the world's foremost expert on the elusive snow leopard that serves as a flagship species for Central Asia's high mountains. Credited as being the first individual to radio collar snow leopards to track their movements, Jackson has been able to obtain unprecedented data on the species' movements and behavior.
Carl Jones, Ph.D. (Mauritian Wildlife Foundation) Carl Jones is a true conservationist, and he is personally credited with the leading role in saving a dozen species from extinction, including the Mauritius kestrels, pink pigeons and echo parakeets whose effective populations were less than 10 and now range in the hundreds. He has revitalized dozens of degraded islets, controlled invasive species, and re-introduced endemic plants, reptiles and birds to the group of islands that make up the remote and beautiful Republic of Mauritius.
Russell A. Mittermeier, Ph.D: (Conservation International) Russell Mittermeier is an icon in the conservation community. He was one of the first academic primatologists to become concerned with the sustainability and conservation of primates, and one of the first to see conservation synergies between field research, zoos, biomedical colonies, universities, government agencies and sanctuaries. In spite of his role as president of Conservation International, which has become one of the most important conservation organizations in the world, Mittermeier himself remains a classical biologist, escorting expeditions through forests and swamps in New Guinea, Madagascar and Brazil, and discovering a steady stream of new primate species. He is also credited with developing the "biodiversity hotspots," which has become synonymous with conservation.
Patricia Wright, Ph.D: (Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments) A field researcher whose work reaches far beyond science, Patricia Wright has become internationally known as a leading expert on lemurs following her discovery of the golden bamboo lemur in 1986, a species that was then unknown to science. That discovery helped catalyze the transformation of Madagascar's park system, turning it into a model for global conservation efforts.
To learn more about each of the finalists, how you can support their work, and the Indianapolis Prize, please visit www.indianapolisprize.org.
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 recipient also receives 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 Iain Douglas-Hamilton, founder and CEO of Save the Elephants and legendary conservation figure. Additional Prize predecessors include Dr. George Archibald, the co-founder of the International Crane Foundation, and Dr. George Schaller, the world's pre-eminent field biologist and vice president of science and exploration for the World Conservation Society. The Indianapolis Prize has received support from the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation since its inception in 2006.