Human activities often cause irreversible damage to wildlife.
Habitat loss and fragmentation are driven by unsustainable development, while wildlife poaching and trafficking are the byproducts of economic inequality in impoverished rural regions. Those fighting to protect endangered and at-risk species hold the key to protecting biodiversity and preventing total ecosystem collapse.
I am very optimistic we can still save thousands of endangered species with the right interventions and with enough unity and energy.
Goldman Prize Winners awarded for Wildlife Protection
Thai Van Nguyen founded Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, which rescued 1,540 pangolins from the illegal wildlife trade between 2014 and 2020. Nguyen also established Vietnam’s first anti-poaching unit, which, since 2018, has destroyed 9,701 animal traps, dismantled 775 illegal camps, confiscated 78 guns, and arrested 558 people for poaching, leading to a significant decline in illegal activities in Pu Mat National Park. Pangolins are the world’s most heavily trafficked mammal despite an international trade ban. Heavy demand for their meat, scales, and blood threatens pangolins with extinction; all eight pangolin species are on the IUCN Red List.
Bayarjargal Agvaantseren helped create the 1.8 million-acre Tost Tosonbumba Nature Reserve in the South Gobi Desert—a critical habitat for the vulnerable snow leopard—in April 2016, then succeeded in persuading the Mongolian government to cancel all 37 mining licenses within the reserve. An unprecedented victory for the snow leopard, as of June 2018 there are no active mines within the reserve—and all mining operations are illegal.
Ana Colovic Lesoska led a seven-year campaign to cut off international funding for two large hydropower plants planned for inside Mavrovo National Park—North Macedonia’s oldest and largest national park—thereby protecting the habitat of the nearly-extinct Balkan lynx. In 2015, the World Bank withdrew its financing for one hydropower project, and, in 2017, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development canceled its loan to the North Macedonian government for the other. This is the first Prize for North Macedonia.
Putting his life on the line, Rodrigue Katembo went undercover to document and release information about bribery and corruption in the quest to drill for oil in Virunga National Park, resulting in public outrage that forced the company to withdraw from the project.
Raoul du Toit coordinated conservation initiatives that have helped develop and maintain the largest remaining black rhino populations in Zimbabwe.
Drawing international attention to the inhumane and environmentally catastrophic shark finning industry, Randall Arauz led the campaign to halt the practice in Costa Rica, making his country an international model for shark protection.
Partners in Wildlife Protection
The Goldman Prize is honored to partner with a variety of environmental organizations around the world, each of them united in the goal of protecting our planet. From our nominating partners to global organizations to grassroots NGOs led by Prize winners, they are all essential parts of the environmental community.