- Date: May 10, 2007
Cali, Colombia - In recognition of his groundbreaking work to conserve South America's pink river dolphins, Dr. Fernando Trujillo was awarded both the Whitley Award sponsored by HSBC Holdings and the Whitley Gold Award, the Whitley Fund for Nature's most prestigious honor. Dr. Trujillo is the founder and scientific director of the Fundación Omacha - a partner of WWF-Colombia in the Amazon and Orinoco Basins. With support from WWF and its local partners, Dr. Trujillo is working with a team of young South American scientists to survey river dolphin populations along the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers and their tributaries in Venezuela, Colombia, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador. Central to his work is a strong campaign to stop the killing of dolphins and other endangered species for use in the catfish industry.
Recent studies show that although river dolphin populations in the Amazon appear to be stable, they are increasingly threatened by escalating fisheries, the use of dolphins as bait, pollution and habitat loss. The survey being led by Dr. Trujillo identifies places where dolphins congregate that should be considered key conservation areas for dolphins within integrated river basin management plans. Dr. Trujillo hopes that dolphin watching and other sustainable economic activities could help promote conservation of river dolphins as well as giant otters, manatees, turtles and caimans while providing economic alternatives for local people.
"Dr. Trujillo's work in Colombia is ambitious and he has overcome many barriers," said Edward Whitley, founder and chairman of the Whitley Fund for Nature. "He is combining a truly holistic approach. As well as researching threatened species such as the pink river dolphin, Dr. Trujillo is engaging with people in the Amazon basin, working closely with fishermen, and is even working with supermarkets."
"Without his work, we would not even be aware of the threat the Colombian catfish industry poses to river dolphins. We are delighted to announce him the overall Whitley Gold Award Winner."
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