WASHINGTON - World Wildlife Fund announced today that it has named Dr. K. Ullas Karanth as the winner of the 2007 J. Paul Getty Award for Conservation Leadership. The annual award honors outstanding contributions to international conservation and carries with it a $200,000 prize. Karanth, a scientist with the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), is the first tiger expert to win the award.
Karanth, an active conservationist in southern India for the past 25 years, was honored for a career devoted to the science of endangered species and their habitats, WWF officials said.
"The Getty Award not only seeks to honor today's top conservationists, but recognizes those who are helping to build the leaders of tomorrow, and Dr. Karanth has been instrumental in educating the next generation of conservation scientists in his native country of India," said Carter S. Roberts, President and CEO of WWF- US, who will present the award at a ceremony in Washington today.
"The Wildlife Conservation Society is justifiably proud that Ullas Karanth has been honored by the World Wildlife Fund's J. Paul Getty Award for Conservation Leadership," said Dr. John G. Robinson, WCS Executive Vice President and Director for Global Conservation Programs. "Dr. Karanth has been a tireless fighter for tiger conservation for more than two decades, and has helped show the world that there is hope for these emblematic big cats."
As part of WCS's efforts to save India's critically endangered tiger, Karanth has conducted India-wide surveys of tigers to better determine their numbers and habitat needs. Using camera traps to capture their unique stripe pattern on film, Karanth has improved accuracy in assessing the number of tigers in India's Nagarahole National Park and his efforts have facilitated the creation of three protected areas in the Western Ghats. He has also done innovative work on voluntary resettlement, benefiting people and wildlife. He is currently working through WCS's "Tigers Forever" program to conserve tigers throughout Asia.
The $200,000 award will be used to establish a fellowship program named in Karanth's honor to support graduate students in conservation-related fields at a program run by the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore in collaboration with WCS-India.
The J. Paul Getty Award for Conservation Leadership recognizes an individual who has shown leadership in conservation in one of three annually rotating themes: political leadership, scientific leadership, and community leadership. It replaces the J. Paul Getty Wildlife Conservation Prize established in 1974 by the late J. Paul Getty. The award is unique in that it not only recognizes today's leaders in conservation but also helps develop conservation leadership for tomorrow by establishing graduate fellowships in the name of the winner and J. Paul Getty. The award, currently overseen by J. Paul Getty's son Gordon and his family, is intended to encourage conservation innovation and heighten public awareness of the need for conservation.
Nominees for the Getty Award are submitted to WWF by conservation organizations around the world and the winner is chosen by an independent jury of individuals from a wide and distinguished array of expertise.