Kenyan conservationist Abdullahi Hussein bags the coveted Whitley Award

Kenyan conservationist Abdullahi Hussein bags the coveted Whitley Award

Smack in the middle of the coronavirus disquiet that has gripped the world, a Kenyan conservationist has won the most coveted award in the conservation world.

Nicknamed the ‘Green Oscars’ the Whitley Award is offered by London-based conservation charity the Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN).

It recognizes conservationists who run exemplary programme(s) to save endangered species.

Abdullahi Hussein Ali was awarded for his project to save the endangered Hirola Antelope from extinction.

Hirola antelope is indigenous to the North Eastern region of Kenya along the border with Somalia.

It is estimated that only 500 individuals of this animal are remaining on earth. Researchers postulate that their numbers declined rapidly in the last four decades.

The story of decline in the number of Hirola antelopes and that of the Elephants are intertwined as the Hirola is known to thrive in grasslands while Elephants maintain the grasslands by uprooting trees.

Therefore, with the diminishing number of Elephants, the Hirola continues to lose its habitat.

Encroachment of their habitats by pastoralists has further restricted the animal into small areas.

Ali’s project focuses on replenishing the grasslands and sensitizing the community to be caretakers of the rare Antelope.

Other conservation works to save the Antelope were an exercise in futility owing to the hostile region which they inhabit.

The Northern region of Kenya is generally hot and dry and is riddled with terrorism and tribal clashes. Factors that have made foreign conservationists flee the area.

Ali impressed the panel of judges by his grassroot approach to conservation in that he has focused on his rural home and involved the local community in his projects.

Ali’s commitment to his country and its wildlife has provided a powerful formula to deliver lasting change.

“He shows us a wonderful example of the benefits of a grassroots approach in conservation, and we are thrilled to highlight his achievements and support the scale up of the Hirola Conservation Programme.” Said WFN Founder Edward Whitley

Contrary to previous years when winners were invited to London to celebrate their achievements, this year, their awards were conferred via a video link.

For his efforts, Ali will receive Sterling Pounds 40, 000 (Ksh. 5.3M). A much-needed boost for his project.

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