Whitley Awards 2020

Names of the Whitley Awards 2020 have been announced, and Phuntsho Thinley of Bhutan is one of the winners of the prestigious award, popularly known as the Green Oscar.

Phuntsho Thinley won the Whitley Awards 2020 for stepping up patrols to preserve the endangered alpine musk deer in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan.

“These extraordinary conservationists are all leading grassroots work in their home countries to protect the natural world and its wildlife,” the organizers said.

In a special message, the patron of the Whitley Awards, the Princess Royal said, “The Whitley Fund for Nature chooses conservation leaders who have a real understanding of the challenges facing local people, which is especially important in these very worrying economic times.”

Phuntsho and the Royal Society for Protection of Nature will step up anti-poaching patrols in the Lingzhi Park Range (LPR) in Jigme Dorji National Park in western Bhutan.

He will provide SMART training to all park staff and to 50 local leaders, increasing manpower and community participation.

He will engage residents in the conservation significance of musk deer and conduct wildlife monitoring using camera traps to inform their next steps.

By adopting a multi-faceted approach, Phuntsho will increase knowledge and awareness about this endangered species and the importance of its conservation.

Lingzhi Park Range is home to alpine musk deer, red panda, and dhole. The locals residing within the park are unaware of the importance wildlife plays in balancing the ecosystem.

The alpine musk deer is illegally hunted for its scent glands which are traded for medicinal purposes and reach a high value on the Asian black market.

About 100 alpine musk deer are killed in Bhutan every year.

And if hunting remains unchecked, musk deer could become extinct in a few years, with cascading effects on the ecological integrity of the region.

Each winner will receive £40,000 in project funding to carry out their vital work, and a boost in profile to help forge connections and leverage further support.

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