It’s the end of another year so who do we think have been notable friends of wildlife in 2010. Who have been the movers and shakers in the environmental sector this year? The list below shows who I think have been the top 10 wildlife advocates of 2010.
10 Jianmin Lang
Jianmin is the campaigns manager at Hunchun Nature Reserve on the borders of Russia and North Korea. His campaign for 2010 was to help protect the Siberian tigers found in the reserve by changing attitudes of local residents and hunters. By the end of the campaign the percentage of people eating wild animals — tiger prey — dropped from 56 percent to 18 percent. There was a drop in wildlife poaching incidents from 23 in 2009 to six in 2010. The sale of wild game to restaurants has dropped from 22 percent to four percent and 94 percent of people in the area now recognize that snare trapping harms tigers.
9 Siew Te Wong
After 10 years of studies and fundraising Siew te of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre finally built and opened new bear housing and enclosures at the worlds only sun bear conservation centre in Borneo. The role of the centre is to ensure that the worlds smallest bears do not go extinct in the wild. One of it’s tasks is to rescue captive sun bears and prepare them for release back into the wild. March saw the opening of the first purpose built 20 bear house and the outdoor enclosures were opened in April to allow rescued bears to be prepared for release back to the wild.
8 Bruno Barbosa
Bruno heads up Brazil’s anti-bio-piracy team Ibama. He is leading a government crackdown on companies such as pharmaceuticals and cosmetic companies who use genetic material or flora and fauna products from the Brazilian forests without giving benefit back to the country or local communities. His latest crackdown called Operation New Direction is an attempt by the government to stop profiteering of multinational companies and to try and ensure local communities get sufficient compensation for their local natural resources and knowledge. Next year will see Bruno stepping up the campaign and the government increasing fines of companies who operate bio-piracy.
7 Karma Samdrup
Karma was one of the founders of the Three Rivers Environmental Group and has won many international awards for his work in conservation in China and Tibet. He even won an award in 2006 from the Chinese state television station “creating harmony between men and nature”. In June 2010 he was sentenced to 15 years imprison for ‘grave robbing and stealing cultural artifacts’ – charges which had been dropped over 12 years previously. It is widely thought that the charges were brought due to Karma being openly vocal about the treatment of his two brothers who had investigated and named local officials – including the local police chief – who were involved in hunting endangered species.
6 Shishir Mohapatra
Shishir is the village head of Dhinkia and general secretary of PPSS. PPSS was set up by villagers and local residents to combat India’s largest ever foreign investment project – a steel and mining complex worth US$12 billion by South Korean company POSCO. The 1,620 hectare site would also include it’s own port. The project will see the destruction of valuable and productive agricultural land and the loss of livelihood for 30,000 subsistence fishermen. Despite attacks by police with baton charges and tear gas the villagers still refuse to give up their property and livelihoods.
5 David Grove
David was a Pennsylvania wildlife conservation officer who was killed while on duty. He was interviewing a man suspected of poaching deer when the accused pulled a gun and shot the officer 4 times killing him on the 11th November. His death serves as a reminder that every day across the world wildlife officers and rangers put their lives on the line in order to protect wildlife from criminals.
4 Sena Sikaka and Lodu Sikaka
Two local tribesmen of the Dongria Kondh tribe of India, they were kidnapped at gun point and integrated by police. The Dongria Kondh are fighting plans by British mining giant, Vedanta Resources, to open an open-cast bauxite mine on a sacred mountain in Orissa, India. As a sacred mountain the forests of Niyamgiri have remained untouched and now contain an elephant sanctuary and are also home to leopards and tigers. The plans will put at risk as number of endangered species and the near pristine ecology of the mountain forests.
3 Bishop Erwin Krautler
Bishop Krautler has spent 30 years working in the Brazilian forests providing support to local indigenous people. He has been active in environmental issues and protection of Amazonia for three decades and his life has been threatened many times. Bishop Krautler is now involved with the protests against the building of Belo Monte — a massive 11,000-megawatt dam that would be the world’s third-largest hydroelectric plant.
2 Li Bingbing
This year the Chinese film star was made a United Nations Environment Programme Goodwill Ambassador. Her role will be to help raise awareness of wildlife and environmental issues in China. Ms Li is already well known in China for her conservation and environmental projects including her LOVE Green Movement and her involvement in the Million Forest Project. Li Bingbing is UNEP’s first Goodwill Ambassador in China.
1 Amit Jethva
Indian forest campaigner who was assassinated by gun men on 20th July 2010.When he was killed Amit was heavily involved with protecting the Gir National Park – the only home of the Asiatic lion – which was at threat of being encroached on. Amit has exposed illegal limestone mining in the protected forest and just before his death he had filed a law suit to stop illegal mining in the buffer zone around the park. His writ had named a local MP – Dinu Solanki from India’s Hindu Nationalist Party – and the case was said to, ‘openly expose his link with illegal mining operations’.
Amit was just one of a growing number of environmental activists murdered in India this year.