• Whale shark expert Dr. Rachel Graham presented with award by HRH Princess Anne
  • One of World’s Most Prestigious Conservation Awards

NEW YORK (May 13, 2011) – The Wildlife Conservation Society is pleased to announce that WCS shark conservationist, Rachel Graham, is this year’s winner of one of the world’s most prestigious prizes for grassroots nature conservation: the Whitley Gold Award.

Graham, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Gulf and Caribbean Sharks and Rays Program and a member of the IUCN Shark Specialist Group, received her prize from HRH The Princess Royal (Princess Anne) at the Royal Geographical Society, London, during a ceremony hosted by The Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN) – the UK-based charity behind the international award.

To accompany the title and her Whitley Gold Award 2011 trophy, Graham wins project funding along with membership in the influential network of past Whitley Award winners, and professional development training.

“Belize’s marine life has a tireless champion in Rachel Graham” said Steven Sanderson, WCS President and CEO. “Her 20 years of conservation work is turning the tide for sharks and drawing needed attention to protect these magnificent marine predators.”

John Robinson, WCS Executive Vice President for Conservation and Science, said, “Rachel is a huge asset to WCS’s conservation efforts to protect marine ecosystems around the world. Her work benefits one of the most pristine marine regions in the Western Hemisphere.”

The award recognizes Graham’s work to put in place a national action plan for sharks and to encourage more local people to protect ocean wildlife and coastal biodiversity, safeguarding livelihoods and Belize’s economically-important tourism industry.

Further, it recognizes Graham’s efforts to reverse the rapid decline of sharks in Belizean waters, caused mainly by over-fishing by foreign fishing fleets supplying white fish meat to Latin America and shark fins to Asia.

The Whitley Awards is an annual competition first held in 1994. In the 18 years since the awards began, they have given grants worth more than £6m (approximately $9.7 million) to support the work of inspirational conservation leaders in 70 countries and built a network of more than 120 Whitley alumni.

Stephen Sautner: (1-718-220-3682; ssautner@wcs.org)
John Delaney: (1-718-220-3275; jdelaney@wcs.org)

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide.  We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo.  Together these activities change attitudes toward nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony.  WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. 

Special Note to the Media: If you would like to guide your readers or viewers to a Web link where they can make donations in support of helping save wildlife and wild places, please direct them to wcs.org.