Joanna Alfaro-Shigueto working with local fishermen in Peru

University researcher reaches finals of prestigious global competition

Joanna Alfaro-Shigueto, from Lima (Peru) has been named as a finalist in one of the world’s most prestigious wildlife conservation competitions - the Whitley Awards.

Joanna is a recent graduate of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation and is currently working on a Darwin project for the University.

The next stage  involves an interview with the panel of experts who will decide which of this year’s seven international candidates will win a share of grants worth a total £210,000 GBP for their projects. The results will be announced during a ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society, on Wednesday 9 May at which WFN’s patron, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal (Princess Anne) will present the prizes.

Commenting on the shortlist, the Whitley Fund for Nature’s (WFN) acting director David Wallis said: “Winning a place on the Whitley Awards shortlist is a major achievement in itself. Entries are always of a high calibre and only the most committed and effective nature conservationists win through to the finals. The candidates we are inviting to London for the next stage of judging are particularly impressive. Each one is taking inspirational steps to create a better future both for people and wildlife and we know that our judges are going to find it very difficult to choose between them.”

Joanna Alfaro-Shigueto has won through to the finals because of her work with ProDelphinus to provide small-scale fishermen with the tools to fish more selectively and reduce their impacts upon endangered marine fauna such as sea turtles, seabirds and marine mammals.

She said: ‘This award will directly contribute to the empowerment of small-scale fishermen, by helping them to fish in a more selective and responsible way, and reduce the effect of their fisheries on the sea turtles, seabirds and marine mammals that are caught incidentally. With the generous support of WFN we envision achieving major advances in the conservation of our oceans and toward improving the livelihoods of the thousands of fishermen, their families and the communities that depend upon marine resources in Peru’.

In addition to meeting the judges and HRH The Princess Royal, the trip to London includes opportunities to hear about the work of the six other finalists, attend receptions with leading conservation organisations and academics, meet WFN donors and receive professional development training.

Each Whitley Award winner will also have a new short film made about their work, narrated by the internationally-acclaimed wildlife broadcaster, Sir David Attenborough, a long-standing supporter and trustee of WFN.  The films will be premiered as part of the awards ceremony and, later, be available to view online on YouTube.

The Whitley Awards scheme is an annual competition, first held in 1994. In the 19 years since the scheme began, it has given grants worth more than £6m to support the work of more than 130 grassroots conservation leaders in over 60 countries. To learn more about the charity, its donors and past winners, please see its website.

Date: 14 April 2012