Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton
Relentless in his lifelong devotion to the elephant survival, "Save the Elephants" founder Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Ph.D., received the 2010 Indianapolis Prize, the world's leading award for animal conservation. In recognition for his lifetime achievements, Dr. Douglas-Hamilton received $100,000 and the Lilly Medal at a gala ceremony presented by Cummins Inc. on Sept. 25, 2010, at The Westin Hotel in Indianapolis. [more ...]
The colorful career of Iain Douglas-Hamilton has included being squashed by a rhino, targeted by poachers, and poked by elephants' tusks. He has suffered malaria, hepatitis and other diseases so exotic most people have never even heard of them – not to mention the plane crashes he has survived. He has persevered through severe droughts and a flood so powerful it washed away years of research. So why does he endure all this? One reason – to save elephants.
Four decades ago, Douglas-Hamilton pioneered the first in-depth scientific study of elephant social behavior that has set the standard for every study to follow. He led emergency anti-poaching efforts in Uganda to bring the elephant population there from the very brink of extinction. He has testified before Congress on behalf of his beloved elephants multiple times, leading to the African elephant bill, to date the most successful funding program for the species.
His pioneering elephant tracking Global Positioning System (GPS), widely emulated in Africa and Asia, has become a model survey technique. He recently partnered with Google Earth to show elephant movement in real time via satellite images. In September 2009, Douglas-Hamilton worked to rescue a rare herd of desert elephants in northern Kenya and Mali, threatened from one of the worst droughts in nearly a dozen years. In the spring of 2010, a devastating flood destroyed the Save the Elephants camp in Kenya including staff tents, computers and years of field research notes.
"The plight of the African elephant is intensely personal to Iain. He has studied, named and nurtured thousands of African elephants for generations, and it is this intimate understanding of and love for these magnificent mammals that drives Iain's forceful efforts to secure a future for endangered African elephants," said Michael Crowther, president and CEO of the Indianapolis Zoo. "Iain truly epitomizes what it means to be a hero."
Born in Dorset, England, Douglas-Hamilton attended Gordonstoun School in Scotland and received his bachelor's degree and doctorate from the University of Oxford in Oxford, England. He currently works and resides in Nairobi, Kenya.
To learn more about the work of Iain Douglas-Hamilton and Save the Elephants, click here.
Indianapolis Prize Finalists 2010
Every two years, the Indianapolis Prize Nominating committee selects six finalists for the Indianapolis Prize from among the outstanding conservationists who are nominated to receive this prestigious honor.
The finalists for the 2010 Indianapolis Prize were:
Gerardo Ceballos, National Autonomous University of Mexico
Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Save the Elephants
Rodney Jackson, Snow Leopard Conservancy
Laurie Marker, Cheetah Conservation Fund
Carl Safina, Blue Ocean Institute
Amanda Vincent, Project Seahorse
INDIANAPOLIS PRIZE Nominees 2010
The Nominees for the 2010 Indianapolis Prize included conservationists representing a wide range of scientific and educational programs involving animals from every corner of the globe. [more ...]
In alphabetical order, they were:
Gerardo Ceballos Ph.D.: (Instituto de Ecologia, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) Leader in designing conservation strategies for endangered species and threatened ecosystems; conducted the first geographically explicit analysis of patterns of population and species extinction in a major taxonomic group (mammals).
Nigel Collar, Ph.D.: (BirdLife International) Researched and compiled a unique and comprehensive dataset on globally threatened bird species that was published in groundbreaking regional Red Data Books worldwide.
Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Ph.D.: (Save the Elephants) Founded Save the Elephants; devotes his life to the cause of elephant conservation – from testifying before Congress to leading anti-poaching aid programs in Africa.
Karen Eckert, Ph.D.: (WIDECAST: Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network) Dedicated to research, multilateral marine resource management and international conservation policy of sea turtles for more than three decades.
Ruth Elsey, M.D.: (Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries) Fostered programs to enhance the survivability and sustainability of the American alligator, in addition to parallel efforts for other crocodilians.
George Fenwick, Ph.D.: (American Bird Conservancy) Founded American Bird Conservatory; dedicated to creating and sustaining globally significant biodiversity reserves, tackling policy-based threats to birds and generating funding resources for the biodiversity community.
Rodney Fox: (Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions/Fox Shark Research Foundation) Miracle survivor of one of the world's worst shark attacks; regarded as a world authority on Great White Shark research, observation and conservation.
Birute Mary Galdikas, Ph.D.: (Orangutan Foundation International) More than 35 years of advancing research on wild orangutan ecology and behavior; established rehabilitation and release programs and saved millions of acres of tropical rain forest in Kalimantan.
Paul Garber, Ph.D.: (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign) More than 30 years of dedication and commitment to research, conservation and educational programs involving the monkeys of Latin America.
Jack Hanna: (Columbus Zoo and Aquarium) For more than 30 years, has been the public face of zoos, bringing the conservation message to millions of people worldwide; passionately dedicated to Rwanda's endangered animals and its people.
Maurice Hornocker, Ph.D.: (Selway Institute; Professor Emeritus, University of Idaho) Devoted his career to understanding the ecological role of wild cats and advocating for the conservation of large carnivores, including the first-ever field investigation of cougars.
Rick Hudson: (Fort Worth Zoo; International Iguana Foundation; IUCN Turtle Survival Alliance) Dedicated advocate for reptile conservation, including groundbreaking work with the Jamaican iguana and the coordination of the largest turtle rescue event in history.
Lisa Hywood: (Tikki Hywood Trust) Worked tirelessly to preserve Zimbabwe's wildlife – including captive breeding, management and monitored release of endangered species and conservation education in under-privileged, 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.
Jana Johnson, M.S., Ph.D.: (Moorpark College, The Butterfly Project) Founded The Butterfly Project, a center for endangered butterfly propagation and research; helped the Palos Verdes blue butterfly population, once presumed extinct, grow from 200 to 10,000 in three years. Click here to see a wonderful story about Dr. Johnson's work with endangered butterflies from CBS News.
James Earl Kennamer, Ph.D.: (National Wild Turkey Federation) Devoted leader in wild turkey research, scientific wildlife management and forging cooperative conservation partnerships to grow the wild turkey population from 1.3 million to 7 million in less than 30 years.
Thomas Kunz, Ph.D.: (Boston University) For more than 50 years, has significantly and instrumentally contributed to the conservation and teaching of bat ecology, physiology and behavior.
Amanda Lollar (Bat World Sanctuary) Established Bat World Sanctuary, the largest rehabilitation facility in the world dedicated exclusively to bats; created the first nutritionally sound diet for debilitated bats.
Edward Louis Jr., Ph.D., D.V.M.: (Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo) Tireless conservation advocate of island biogeography, including the discovery of 30 percent of known lemurs to date.
Laurie Marker, Ph.D.: (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.
Stephen McCulloch: (Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution) Created legislation to fund several ongoing marine mammal research and conservation programs while working to construct the first teaching marine mammal hospital, science and education center.
Rodrigo Medellin, Ph.D.: (University of Mexico) Galvanized bat research throughout Latin America by using a multipronged approach including research, education, population biology, molecular ecology and community involvement.
Gregory Rasmussen: (Painted Dog Conservation) Diligent advocate of the critically endangered African wild dogs; founder of the Painted Dog Conservation, which strives to increase the range and numbers of wild dogs in Zimbabwe and elsewhere in Africa.
Patrick Redig, Ph.D., D.V.M.: (The Raptor Center, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota) Dedicated more than 35 years to protecting raptor populations though extensive field work, bench research, clinical work, professional teaching and community service.
Lente Lidia Roode: (Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre) Established the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre, a nonprofit organization that provides a safe haven for orphaned and sick animals, complete with an education center, rescue unit and breeding program.
Patrick Rose: (Save the Manatee Club) Worked to help educate opponents, build coalitions and focus on specific protection goals for manatees, including protecting the manatee's habitat and advocating for strong growth management laws.
Carl Safina, Ph.D.: (Blue Ocean Institute) Brought ocean conservation into the environmental mainstream by using science, art and literature to inspire "sea ethic."
Simon Stuart, Ph.D.: (IUCN-World Conservation Union) Developed the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria, which assesses the extinction risk for species.
Amanda Vincent, Ph.D.: (The University of British Columbia) First person to study seahorses underwater, document extensive trade and initiate a seahorse conservation project, Project Seahorse.