Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka awarded the President’s Mammal Society Award

Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka awarded the President’s Mammal Society Award

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The Mammal Society celebrated its 70th year by awarding its prestigious annual Mammal Society Medal, Richard Shore Prize, and for the first time a new ‘President’s Award’ to esteemed mammalogists at its 2024 Annual Conference on the 13th April.

Andrew Kitchener (source: National Museums Scotland)

The Mammal Society Medal is a prestigious award which celebrates individuals whose contributions have significantly advanced the field of mammal conservation. This year, the prize was awarded to Dr Andrew Kitchener for his decades of service to mammal science. Andrew Kitchener is Principal Curator of Vertebrates at National Museums Scotland, and specialises in research on mammals, especially carnivorans. He is an Honorary Research Fellow in the Institute of Geography, University of Edinburgh and an Honorary Lecturer in the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow. He is also an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and a member of its Animal Welfare and Ethics Group, Chair of Trustees of the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, and a member of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group and the IUCN Equid Specialist Group. In 2020, Dr Kitchener was appointed to the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission to advise Scottish government on animal welfare issues. Dr Kitchener’s wide range of research includes work on hybridisation of the Scottish wildcat with domestic cats, and he is now chair of the Scottish Wildcat Conservation Action Plan Steering Group.

Ian Bond (source: Industry Nature Conservation Association)

The Richard Shore Prize, named in memory of the late Vice-Chair of the Mammal Society, celebrates individuals who have demonstrated remarkable commitment to protecting Britain’s mammals at the grassroots of conservation. This year, the prize was awarded to Ian Bond, an ecologist whose eagle eyes picked up on an unusual shrew in a photo posted on the Mammal Society Facebook group, after it had been brought in by a member’s cat – Jeff. Following up with the cat’s owner, Ian was able to obtain the specimen and identify it as a non-native greater white toothed shrew – a species not thought to be found in Britain and potentially a destructive invasive species. Thanks to Ian’s swift action, the Mammal Society has been able to initiate a nationwide project to collect data on the spread of this non-native shrew and to monitor its impact. The Searching For Shrews project will give early insights into the impact of GWTS and inform the action taken by conservationists in order to protect native wildlife and avert a potential environmental catastrophe. “Receiving this award is probably the most unexpected thing that has ever happened to me. In fact, when I first read the email notifying me, I was so stunned that I had to go and sit down for 10 minutes, and I told my wife I’d been nominated for an award.  Then I read it again properly and realised that I was actually being awarded it, so I had to go and sit down again!  Anyway, it is a huge honour, and I feel like one of those Oscar recipients that are lost for words, though I would like to thank the Mammal Society, and Jeff the cat.” Ian Bond

Dr Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka (source: photo by Jo Anne McArthur)

The President’s Award is a discretionary award that the serving Mammal Society President can award to someone deserving recognition for a particularly outstanding piece of research or conservation work that sets the bar for the sector. This year, Penny Lewns, President of the Mammal Society, gave the award to Dr Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka. Dr Kalema-Zikusoka was Uganda’s first wildlife vet and was responsible for mountain gorilla health when they first started to acclimatise them to people to kickstart tourism in Bwindi.  She quickly realised that the health of both indigenous people and tourists profoundly affected gorilla health, and founded an organisation call ‘Conservation Through Public Health’. They provide health care in the villages, alongside family planning and education, which has benefited both people and gorillas – a ‘One Health’ approach. She has gone on to form social enterprises and other income-generating schemes to support people so that they are not as reliant on the forest, which has significantly reduced poaching and encroachment of habitat, and led to greater understating and tolerance.

“Mammal science and conservation is vital, with 1 in 4 of Britain’s native terrestrial mammals at risk of extinction, however just as the animals themselves are often elusive and out of view of people in their everyday lives, so are those working to tackle the threats faced by mammals often invisible to the wider public. These awards help to shine a light on some of the incredible heroes of science and conservation who are working tirelessly to protect and restore important and charismatic animals, bringing benefits to the ecosystems on which we all ultimately depend.” Matt Larsen-Daw, CEO, Mammal Society.

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