Conservation Heroes
Carl Jones, Ph.D.
2016 Indianapolis Prize Winner
Carl Jones, Ph.D.
Mauritius Kestrel, Pink Pigeon
2016 Indianapolis Prize Winner
Carl Jones, Ph.D.
Mauritius Kestrel, Pink Pigeon
There may be no other conservationist credited with saving as many species as Carl Jones. As a pioneer, leader and hero for the natural world, he has truly changed the fate of animals on the brink of extinction. Much of Jones’ work has focused on the species of Mauritius, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, recognized as a global center of avian diversity. As a chief scientist for the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and scientific director of the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, he developed and led programs that resulted in some of the most striking animal population recoveries in the world, including the Mauritius kestrel — once the world’s rarest bird ­— echo parakeet and pink pigeon. He helped develop the first national park in Mauritius and championed the idea of “ecological replacement,” a conservation tactic in which species outside their historic range act as analogues to fulfill important ecological roles once held by extinct species.
Carl Safina, Ph.D.
2012, 2014, 2016 & 2018 Finalist
Carl Safina, Ph.D.
2012, 2014, 2016 & 2018 Finalist
Carl Safina, Ph.D.
Inspired by fishing as a child, Dr. Carl Safina is a crusader for oceans and their creatures. An ocean restoration pioneer and author of seven captivating novels, he brings species' stories to life. His work also extends to dry land, exploring the way animals like elephants and wolves think and feel.
Russell Mittermeier, Ph.D.
2012, 2014 & 2018 Finalist
Russell Mittermeier, Ph.D.
2012, 2014 & 2018 Finalist
Russell Mittermeier, Ph.D.
Whether he's wading through piranha-infested waters, catching Goliath frogs, or producing agreements between international corporations, Dr. Russell Mittermeier makes conservation happen. In his quest to save biodiversity hotspots, he's discovered 21 species new to science and even has eight named after him!
Rodney Jackson, Ph.D.
2008, 2010, 2012, 2016 & 2018 Finalist
Rodney Jackson, Ph.D.
Snow Leopard
2008, 2010, 2012, 2016 & 2018 Finalist
Rodney Jackson, Ph.D.
Snow Leopard
In his tireless efforts to save the mysterious and endangered snow leopard, Dr. Rodney Jackson spends six months each year in Central Asia’s high mountains, tracking the cats over dangerous terrain by foot, truck, horse and even camel. Jackson helped lead an international team in the first-ever range-wide genetic assessment of snow leopards, and as their classification has improved from endangered to vulnerable, he continues to create solutions to sustain their populations.
Sylvia Earle, Ph.D.
2018 Finalist
Sylvia Earle, Ph.D.
Sylvia Earle, Ph.D.
2018 Finalist
Sylvia Earle, Ph.D.
Dr. Sylvia Earle, also known as "Her Deepness," is a trailblazer for the world's oceans. Her research continues to create a global network of marine protected areas she calls "hope spots." This living legend has spent more than 7,000 hours underwater, led an all-female research expedition in 1970 that led to a White House reception, and still holds the record for the deepest untethered walk on the sea floor.
Joel Berger, Ph.D.
2014, 2016 & 2018 Finalist
Joel Berger, Ph.D.
2014, 2016 & 2018 Finalist
Joel Berger, Ph.D.
A warming world has Dr. Joel Berger traveling the Arctic tundra in search of answers about animal migration for flagship species like muskoxen. You may even find him dressed up like a polar bear — his creative approach to observing relationships between predator and prey — studying the impacts of climate change on animals.
P. Dee Boersma, Ph.D.
2016 & 2018 Finalist
P. Dee Boersma, Ph.D.
Penguins
2016 & 2018 Finalist
P. Dee Boersma, Ph.D.
Penguins
On the coast of Argentina, Dr. Dee Boersma is always up for the task, from health evaluations to hauling the lava rock vital for artificial penguin nests. Magellanic penguins — about 400,000 of them — have her to thank for their thriving colony. She has spent more than 30 years protecting them from oil spills, habitat loss and road construction planned through nesting sites.
Laurie Marker, Ph.D.
2008 & 2010 Finalist
Laurie Marker, Ph.D.
Cheetah
2008 & 2010 Finalist
Laurie Marker, Ph.D.
Cheetah
A California native and founder/executive director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund, Marker was nominated for leading a conservation program from humble beginnings in rural Namibia to an unparalleled model for predator conservation. Marker's 35 years of genetic, biomedical, reproductive and behavioral research has produced an integrated approach to both captive and wild cheetah conservation programs to ensure the survival of these magnificent big cats.
K. Ullas Karanth, Ph.D.
2008 Finalist
K. Ullas Karanth, Ph.D.
Tiger
2008 Finalist
K. Ullas Karanth, Ph.D.
Tiger
Senior conservation scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society and premier tiger expert, Karanth is pre-eminent among the new generation of India's conservationist. He has championed the cause of tigers through his groundbreaking work in India, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Karanth believes that the future of tigers depends on the rigorous protection of wildlife reserves. In India, roughly 115,000 square miles of forest remain for tigers to live and breed, and fewer than 2,000 of the big cats exist today, down from 40,000 just a century ago. Yet Karanth remains optimistic about the future of tigers and uses his scientific studies on behavior, ecology and demography to propel their conservation.
Gerardo Ceballos, Ph.D.
2010 & 2014 Finalist
Gerardo Ceballos, Ph.D.
Jaguar, Black-Footed Ferret
2010 & 2014 Finalist
Gerardo Ceballos, Ph.D.
Jaguar, Black-Footed Ferret
Dr. Gerardo Ceballos is at the forefront of groundbreaking research and animal conservation in Mexico, acting as a key proponent in the passage of the country's Act for Endangered Species, which now protects more than 40,000 animals. Developing successful conservation strategies for a wide variety of species, including the jaguar and the black-footed ferret – the most endangered mammal in North America – Gerardo approaches conservation in a way that is broadly applicable and undeniably impactful.
Patricia Wright, Ph.D.
2014 Indianapolis Prize Winner
Patricia Wright, Ph.D.
Lemur
2014 Indianapolis Prize Winner
Patricia Wright, Ph.D.
Lemur
Dr. Patricia Wright’s love of primates, particularly lemurs, goes beyond basic conservation. Her love of the people of Madagascar shows her true character, and her passion for making a difference has led to a successful road map for future generations to follow. Wright rediscovered a species of lemur thought to be extinct for more than 50 years, in addition to discovering a new species — the golden bamboo lemur. Perhaps most significant, however, are her efforts to create collaboration between scientists, local communities and the government to save lemurs and sustain their unique ecosystem on the island of Madagascar, including helping lead the establishment of Ranomafana National Park and creating Centre ValBio.
Steven Amstrup, Ph.D.
2012 Indianapolis Prize Winner
Steven Amstrup, Ph.D.
Polar Bear
2012 Indianapolis Prize Winner
Steven Amstrup, Ph.D.
Polar Bear
While working in the Arctic, Dr. Steven Amstrup, chief scientist of Polar Bears International, discovered something disturbing — the sea ice polar bears rely on for traveling, hunting and raising their young was disappearing. Regarded as the most influential scientist working on conservation efforts for the iconic bears and determined to create a better future for them, Amstrup and his team of international researchers provided the data needed to list the animals as a threatened species.
Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Ph.D.
2010 Indianapolis Prize Winner
Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Ph.D.
African Elephant
2010 Indianapolis Prize Winner
Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Ph.D.
African Elephant
Credited with paving the way for much of today’s elephant research and current conservation practices, Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton is recognized as one of the world’s foremost authorities on the famed species for his decades-long studies of their movements and social behaviors. His investigations led to the first worldwide conservation about the ivory poaching crisis and was instrumental in bringing about the world ivory trade ban. Douglas-Hamilton pioneered GPS tracking survey techniques and since founding Save The Elephants in 1993 has nurtured a new generation of researchers and conservationists within northern Kenya and around the world.
George Schaller, Ph.D.
2008 Indianapolis Prize Winner
George Schaller, Ph.D.
Lion, Snow Leopard, Gorilla, Panda
2008 Indianapolis Prize Winner
George Schaller, Ph.D.
Lion, Snow Leopard, Gorilla, Panda
Known as one of the founding fathers of modern wildlife conservation and relentless in his pursuit to save endangered species across the globe since 1952, Dr. George Schaller’s successes are vast and span the animal kingdom. He has worked tirelessly to help lions in the Serengeti, gorillas in central Africa, tigers in India, jaguars in Brazil and giant pandas in China, and now focuses efforts on big cats as vice president for Panthera. Schaller has inspired countless field biologists, notable in their own right, and while advancing beyond 80 years of age, shows no signs of slowing down.
George Archibald, Ph.D.
2006 Indianapolis Prize Winner
George Archibald, Ph.D.
Whooping Crane
2006 Indianapolis Prize Winner
George Archibald, Ph.D.
Whooping Crane
When ornithologist and co-founder of the Internataional Crane Foundation Dr. George Archibald first met a female whooping crane named Tex, who had imprinted on humans, his goal was simple: form a bond strong enough that she would lay an egg. His unique approach, which included dancing alongside her, created a remarkable relationship, produced a successful chick and helped make a future for the species a reality.
Simon Stuart, Ph.D.
2006 Finalist
Simon Stuart, Ph.D.
Amphibians, Reptiles
2006 Finalist
Simon Stuart, Ph.D.
Amphibians, Reptiles
SUPPORT
With areas of expertise in species extinction, biodiversity assessments and environmental sustainability, Dr. Simon Stuart has notably sparked conservation efforts throughout the world. A champion in the preservation of threatened animals, it's thanks to the alarms raised by Stuart on the threats to amphibians that action plans to preserve species and habitats were put into place over the years.
L. David Mech, Ph.D.
2006 Finalist
L. David Mech, Ph.D.
Wolf
2006 Finalist
L. David Mech, Ph.D.
Wolf
Mech is regarded as the world's leading authority on wolves, serves as a wolf population recovery specialist and is the founder of the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota. With hundreds of scientific articles, ten books and more than a hundred articles in the popular press to his credit, Mech stands alone as the leading conservationist for these complex and misunderstood apex predators.
Roger Payne, Ph.D.
2008 Finalist
Roger Payne, Ph.D.
Whale
2008 Finalist
Roger Payne, Ph.D.
Whale
As founder and president of the Ocean Alliance, Payne has devoted more than 50 years to the study and protection of whales and the oceans they call home. He discovered that whales sing and that their songs propagate across oceans. His whale song recordings became immensely popular and helped launch the "Save the Whales" movement, which led to a moratorium on whaling from the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Since then, he has worked with the IWC to crate whale sanctuaries throughout the world.
Amanda Vincent, Ph.D.
2016 Finalist
Amanda Vincent, Ph.D.
Seahorse
2016 Finalist
Amanda Vincent, Ph.D.
Seahorse
Among the first to study seahorses underwater, Dr. Vincent helped put the world’s 47 species on the global conservation agenda. Initiating the first seahorse conservation project, her programs have led to 35 no-take marine protected areas, the first global export controls for marine fishes and a bold new citizen science venture, Seahorse.

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THE GUIDE TO ANIMAL CONSERVATION GIVING

Champions for Our Planet connects you with the people on the front lines of animal conservation, turning the tides from extinction to hope. Join them in changing the future.