Conservation Heroes
Steven Amstrup, Ph.D.
2012 Winner
Steven Amstrup, Ph.D.
Polar Bears International
2012 Winner
Steven Amstrup, Ph.D.
Polar Bears International
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.
George Archibald, Ph.D.
2006 Winner
George Archibald, Ph.D.
International Crane Foundation
2006 Winner
George Archibald, Ph.D.
International Crane Foundation
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.
Joel Berger, Ph.D.
2014, 2016 & 2018 Finalist
Joel Berger, Ph.D.
Wildlife Conservation Society
2014, 2016 & 2018 Finalist
Joel Berger, Ph.D.
Wildlife Conservation Society
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.
Ecosystem Sentinels
2016 & 2018 Finalist
P. Dee Boersma, Ph.D.
Ecosystem Sentinels
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.
Markus Borner, Ph.D.
2012 Finalist
Markus Borner, Ph.D.
Retired from Frankfurt Zoological Society
2012 Finalist
Markus Borner, Ph.D.
Retired from Frankfurt Zoological Society
Dr. Markus Borner dedicated his life to the protection of endangered species and sustainable development of protected areas. He is particularly well known for his impact on the one place on earth that would not be sustainable without his long-term efforts: the tremendous wilderness of the Serengeti ecosystem, which includes the animals that have been his focus for more than 40 years — the increasingly rare black rhinoceros. Borner was part of the world's largest reintroduction project for the species and also pioneered research on the Sumatran rhino.
Gerardo Ceballos, Ph.D.
2010 & 2014 Finalist
Gerardo Ceballos, Ph.D.
Institute of Ecology of the National Autonomous University of Mexico
2010 & 2014 Finalist
Gerardo Ceballos, Ph.D.
Institute of Ecology of the National Autonomous University of Mexico
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.
Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Ph.D.
2010 Winner, 2006 & 2008 Finalist
Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Ph.D.
Save The Elephants
2010 Winner, 2006 & 2008 Finalist
Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Ph.D.
Save The Elephants
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.
Holly Dublin, Ph.D.
2006 Finalist
Holly Dublin, Ph.D.
IUCN
2006 Finalist
Holly Dublin, Ph.D.
IUCN
Holly Dublin is an international wildlife conservationist who has devoted her professional career to maintaining Africa's wildlife, most particularly elephants. She served as the chair of the IUCN's Species Survival Commission, its largest and most important network of scientists and researchers working to preserve endangered species.
Sylvia Earle, Ph.D.
2018 Finalist
Sylvia Earle, Ph.D.
Mission Blue
2018 Finalist
Sylvia Earle, Ph.D.
Mission Blue
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.
Rodney Jackson, Ph.D.
2008, 2010, 2012, 2016 & 2018 Finalist
Rodney Jackson, Ph.D.
Snow Leopard Conservancy
2008, 2010, 2012, 2016 & 2018 Finalist
Rodney Jackson, Ph.D.
Snow Leopard Conservancy
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.
Carl Jones, Ph.D.
2016 Winner, 2012 & 2014 Finalist
Carl Jones, Ph.D.
Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Mauritian Wildlife Foundation
2016 Winner, 2012 & 2014 Finalist
Carl Jones, Ph.D.
Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Mauritian Wildlife Foundation
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.
K. Ullas Karanth, Ph.D.
2008 Finalist
K. Ullas Karanth, Ph.D.
Wildlife Conservation Society
2008 Finalist
K. Ullas Karanth, Ph.D.
Wildlife Conservation Society
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.
Laurie Marker, Ph.D.
2008 & 2010 Finalist
Laurie Marker, Ph.D.
Cheetah Conservation Fund
2008 & 2010 Finalist
Laurie Marker, Ph.D.
Cheetah Conservation Fund
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.
L. David Mech, Ph.D.
2006 Finalist
L. David Mech, Ph.D.
International Wolf Center
2006 Finalist
L. David Mech, Ph.D.
International Wolf Center
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.
Russell A. Mittermeier, Ph.D.
2018 Winner, 2012 & 2014 Finalist
Russell A. Mittermeier, Ph.D.
Global Wildlife Conservation
2018 Winner, 2012 & 2014 Finalist
Russell A. Mittermeier, Ph.D.
Global Wildlife Conservation
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!
Roger Payne, Ph.D.
2008 Finalist
Roger Payne, Ph.D.
Ocean Alliance
2008 Finalist
Roger Payne, Ph.D.
Ocean Alliance
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.
Carl Safina, Ph.D.
2012, 2014, 2016 & 2018 Finalist
Carl Safina, Ph.D.
The Safina Center
2012, 2014, 2016 & 2018 Finalist
Carl Safina, Ph.D.
The Safina Center
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.
George Schaller, Ph.D.
2008 Winner
George Schaller, Ph.D.
Panthera
2008 Winner
George Schaller, Ph.D.
Panthera
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.
Simon Stuart, Ph.D.
2006 Finalist
Simon Stuart, Ph.D.
Synchronicity Earth
2006 Finalist
Simon Stuart, Ph.D.
Synchronicity Earth
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.
Amanda Vincent, Ph.D.
2016 Finalist
Amanda Vincent, Ph.D.
Project Seahorse
2016 Finalist
Amanda Vincent, Ph.D.
Project 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.
Patricia Wright, Ph.D.
2014 Winner, 2012 Finalist
Patricia Wright, Ph.D.
Centre ValBio
2014 Winner, 2012 Finalist
Patricia Wright, Ph.D.
Centre ValBio
Finalist: 2012 Winner: 2014 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.

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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.