This year’s WWF Duke of Edinburgh Conservation medal has been awarded to Russian wildlife biologist Anatoly Belov.
Belov, 48, was recognised for dedicating 22 years of his life to protecting the endangered Amur tiger in the Primorsky province on the Russia-China border, one of the tiger’s primary breeding grounds.
His efforts have contributed to the number of Amur tigers increasing from 50 individuals 50 years ago, to around 500 today.
In a ceremony at Windsor Castle on Monday, the anti-poaching ranger received a gold medal, a Rolex watch and a certificate signed by the Duke of Edinburgh and the Director General of WWF International.
He said: “This is a great honour that will truly support our work to save the magnificent Amur tiger. I hope this award also inspires others to support the men and women around the world who risk their lives protecting wild tigers from poachers.”
The Duke of Edinburgh commended the choice and said Belov’s tireless work should serve as an inspiration.
The Duke also said: “The efforts of Mr. Belov and his colleagues during the last 22 years to discourage the poaching of these animals in the Chinese-Russian border area have been crucial in the effort to save this species from extinction.”
WWF Scotland conveyed hope that the internationally recognised award will raise awareness and help bring the number of tigers up from the estimated 3200 currently living in the wild.
The prize is well timed as world leaders prepare to meet and discuss the tiger issue at a global summit in St Petersburg 19-24 November.
The aim of the summit is to double the number of wild tigers by 2022, the next year of the tiger.
Students Duncan Thomas, Glasgow and Dannee McGuire, Exeter, both winners of a WWF competition, will attend a youth summit held alongside the main meeting.
Thomas expressed excitement over the opportunity to attend the unique event, and went on to say:
“Conservation and restoration of natural habitats and biodiversity is essential for the continued prosperity of the human race, because we, like every other species, are entirely dependant upon the ability of the earth to provide for us.”
Amanda Svensson Falk