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Lion Guardians win St Andrews Prize

Dr Leela Hazzah

An innovative project, which employs 32 non-literate Maasai warriors in Kenya as community conservationists and field biologists, has won this year’s St Andrews Prize for the Environment – which carries a total prize value of £95,000 ($150,000).

The Lion Guardians have created an entrepreneurial solution through employment and empowering communities to conserve lions as a long-term livelihood strategy. The programme includes literacy training for the Maasai, mitigating lion-livestock conflict, monitoring lion populations by combining traditional and modern tracking with local participation, preventing lion killing and naming of the lions by the Maasai.

At a ceremony in the University of St Andrews today, Dr Leela Hazzah, Director and Founder of the Lion Guardians team, was presented with the winning prize of £63,000 ($100,000). Leela said:

“I am delighted with this win. This money will cover the core costs of the programme, which are the backbone of our organisation. We will continue to develop and improve the educational, technical and communications elements of each site, ensuring that they have a customised programme to fit their specific needs. It will also enable us to scale up the programme into new areas where both imperilled carnivores and indigenous communities would greatly benefit from its expansion.”

Now in its fourteenth year the primary objective of the prize is to find innovative solutions to environmental challenges. The solutions should be combine good science, economic reality and political acceptability.

Sir Crispin Tickell, Chairman of the St Andrews Prize for the Environment Trustees, said:

“The Prize is going from strength-to-strength. It is now in its fourteenth year and we are delighted that is has become so well established and continues to attract such a range of innovative projects from all over the world.”

This year’s runners-up, each presented with a cheque for £15,800 ($25,000) were:

  • Aqua21: ozone-based water purification technology, aiming to deliver non-chemical, low-carbon and reliable water purification technology to a global market at significantly lower energy and capital costs than established alternatives.
  • Sanergy: providing sustainable sanitation in urban slums in Kenya through the construction of a dense network of small-scale, high quality sanitation centres located close to homes and using the waste to produce organic fertilizer and electricity through biogas.

Professor Louise Richardson, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St Andrews said:

“For centuries this university has educated young people motivated by a desire to improve the world around them. We are proud to be at the cutting edge of the field of sustainability and environmental studies and to support, through the St Andrews Prize for the Environment, the current generation of creative thinkers designing solutions to today’s problems.”

Paul Warwick, President, UK and Africa for ConocoPhillips, said:

“By sponsoring the St Andrews Prize for the Environment, ConocoPhillips is creating a path to a more secure and environmentally conscious energy supply for future generations. This forum lets us recognise groups and individuals with innovative environmental ideas and gives us the opportunity to focus on developing and sustaining their life changing projects.”

Since its launch in 1998, the St Andrews Prize for the Environment has attracted entries on topics as diverse as sustainable development in the Amazon and Central American rainforests, urban re-generation, recycling, health and water issues and renewable energy.

Full details on each of the finalists’ projects can be found at www.thestandrewsprize.com

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