Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Ph.D., Save the Elephants
Relentless in his lifelong devotion to the elephant survival, "Save the Elephants" founder Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Ph.D., received the 2010 Indianapolis Prize, the world's leading award for animal conservation. In recognition for his lifetime achievements, Dr. Douglas-Hamilton received $100,000 and the Lilly Medal at a gala ceremony presented by Cummins Inc. on September 25, 2010, at The Westin Hotel in Indianapolis. [more ...]
The colorful career of Iain Douglas-Hamilton has included being squashed by a rhino, targeted by poachers, and poked by elephants' tusks. He has suffered malaria, hepatitis and other diseases so exotic most people have never even heard of them – not to mention the plane crashes he has survived. He has persevered through severe droughts and a flood so powerful it washed away years of research. So why does he endure all this? One reason – to save elephants.
Four decades ago, Douglas-Hamilton pioneered the first in-depth scientific study of elephant social behavior that has set the standard for every study to follow. He led emergency anti-poaching efforts in Uganda to bring the elephant population there from the very brink of extinction. He has testified before Congress on behalf of his beloved elephants multiple times, leading to the African elephant bill, to date the most successful funding program for the species.
His pioneering elephant tracking Global Positioning System (GPS), widely emulated in Africa and Asia, has become a model survey technique. He recently partnered with Google Earth to show elephant movement in real time via satellite images. In September 2009, Douglas-Hamilton worked to rescue a rare herd of desert elephants in northern Kenya and Mali, threatened from one of the worst droughts in nearly a dozen years. In the spring of 2010, a devastating flood destroyed the Save the Elephants camp in Kenya including staff tents, computers and years of field research notes.
"The plight of the African elephant is intensely personal to Iain. He has studied, named and nurtured thousands of African elephants for generations, and it is this intimate understanding of and love for these magnificent mammals that drives Iain's forceful efforts to secure a future for endangered African elephants," said Michael Crowther, president and CEO of the Indianapolis Zoo. "Iain truly epitomizes what it means to be a hero."
Born in Dorset, England, Douglas-Hamilton attended Gordonstoun School in Scotland and received his bachelor's degree and doctorate from the University of Oxford in Oxford, England. He currently works and resides in Nairobi, Kenya.
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The 2010 Indianapolis Prize Finalists
The Indianapolis Prize is pleased to recognize the 2010 finalists for their outstanding work to protect and conserve the endangered animals of our planet.
Gerardo Ceballos, Ph.D., National Autonomous University of Mexico