Dr. Western was selected as a nominee for his more than 48 years of pioneering research and community-based conservation strategies in East Africa. He was among the first scientists to recognize the limitations of national parks and investigate how humans and wildlife can coexist. His pioneering community-based conservation work has served as a model for finding a place for wildlife beyond parks around the world.
As former executive director and current chairman of African Conservation Centre, director of Kenya Wildlife Service and conservation director for Wildlife Conservation Society International, Western has been a leader in many areas of conservation, including research, international programs, short and long-term conservation planning, ecotourism, training, directing governmental and non-governmental organizations and public education.
He established the Wildlife Planning Unit in Kenya in 1978, was the chairman of the African Elephant and Rhino Specialist Group in the 1980s, founding president of the International Ecotourism Society, chairman of the Wildlife Clubs of Kenya and Carter Chair of Conservation Biology, Wildlife Conservation Society. He established the “Parks Beyond Parks” movement to promote communities setting up their own wildlife sanctuaries and enterprises and led efforts to set up the first community-based wildlife conservancies in Kenya. Western also promoted horizontal learning exchanges in East Africa and around the world so that communities can learn first-hand from each other’s experience.
During his many national and international assignments, Western has continued his groundbreaking research in Amboseli. The Amboseli Conservation Program he set up in 1967 is the longest running ecosystem research program in Africa. His research has pioneered the integration of human-wildlife studies, underscored the significance of pastoralism in savanna ecosystems, shown the underlying basis of human-wildlife coexistence in the savannas and developed many of the basic techniques for studying and monitoring large mammal ecosystems. His research into the life history and ecology of large mammals has been cited as one of the foundational studies in the new field of macroecology. His articles have appeared in Science, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Bioscience, PLoS, Ecology and other prominent science journals.
His honors include the World Ecology Award, Harris World Ecology Center at the University of Missouri-St. Louis; Conservation Medal, Zoological Society of San Diego; Lifetime Achievement Award by the International Ecotourism Society; Order of the Golden Ark; San Diego Zoo Conservation Medal, Cincinnati Zoological Society; and Elder of the Burning Spear.
Western’s publications include Conservation for the Twenty-first Century (OUP, 1989), Natural Connections: Perspectives in Community-based Conservation (Island Press, 1994) and In the Dust of Kilimanjaro (Shearwater, 2001). He earned his bachelor’s degree from Leicester University in England and his doctorate from the University of Nairobi in Kenya. Leicester University awarded him a prestigious “Doctor of Science” in 2002.
For more information about the Indianapolis Prize, please visit: www.indianapolisprize.org and accafrica.org.