Claudia Feh

Lonnie Dupre

Teresa Manera

David Lordkipanidze

Kikuo Morimoto
Claudia Feh, who is reintroducing the Przewalski horse to the Mongolian steppes, has won one of the Rolex Awards for Enterprise for 2004. She has been raising the world’s only natural herd of the horses – the last truly wild equine species on the planet – in France for the past decade, and last September began re-establishing them on the plains where their close relatives roamed in prehistoric times.

At the age of 19 she was inspired to study wild and semi-wild horses by seeing the 17,000-year-old cave paintings of Lascaux, southwest France: the large head, and upright bristly mane, of the Przewalski horse looks strikingly similar to those pictured there. In Mongolia the takh – as the Przewalski horse is known locally – was regarded as sacred. But the last of them seen living in the wild was spotted there in the mid-1970s.

Feh, who originally comes from Switzerland, has chosen the horse as the focus for an integrated conservation project, starting in August 2005, based on habitat protection and restoration, in close collaboration with Mongolian nomad families. Dr Patricia D. Moehlman, chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission Equid specialist group, described the initiative as ‘very original and innovative’ and adds: ‘This is the first reintroduction programme that I know of that, from the start, will provide in-depth education for local people.’

Lonnie Dupre, a US explorer, won another of the awards, which are given every two years to recognize pioneering concepts and innovative thought. He will use it to help fund an attempt he is making with fellow explorer Eric Larsen to achieve the first-ever crossing of the Arctic Ocean in the perilous summer season, without any external support. They are making the 2,250-kilometre journey across the top of the world by kayak and on skis to draw attention to the threat of global warming, particularly to the Arctic and its ecosystems.

A third Rolex award winner, Teresa Manera from Argentina, was recognized for her struggle to preserve a unique 12,000-year-old collection of animal footprints existing as fossils on a rocky outcrop on the coast of her native Argentina. The 3-kilometre-long site, which contains thousands of prehistoric footprints, is now under threat from sea-level rise and tourists. Manera is trying to preserve the prints in latex so that scientists can study them.

A somewhat similar award goes to Georgian palaeoanthropologist Dr David Lordkipanidze, who discovered the bones of the earliest known human ancestors to venture out of Africa, at Dmanisi in the Southern Caucasus. He has waged a decade-long struggle to uncover, substantiate and protect this fresh evidence about the origins of humanity. Professor Oleg Soffer, of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Illinois, says that his is ‘the most important palaeoanthropological research project around today’.

Silk expert Kikuo Morimoto wins the final award for setting up workshops in Cambodia to revive traditional production in impoverished villages and act as a model in revitalizing the rural economy. He has replanted mulberry trees on which the silkworms feed, revived traditional weaving and dyeing with natural colours, and provided profitable work for hundreds of people.

At a time of increasing membership and engagement with new sectors, including business, and new issues, such as poverty reduction, former South African Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Valli Moosa, has become President of IUCN – The World Conservation Union. ‘Conservation is everybody’s business,’ says Moosa. ‘We will succeed if we continue to broaden our scope and involve more people’.

Claude Martin

Dr Claude Martin has announced his resignation as Director-General of WWF International after over a decade at the helm of the global organization. He has spent more than 30 years with WWF, starting in central India in the early 1970s, moving to Ghana for several years, and in 1980 becoming director of WWF-Switzerland – which emerged, under his leadership, as one of the strongest national organizations within the WWF network. After serving as Deputy Director General (Programme) of WWF from 1990, he took up his present post in 1993.

PHOTOGRAPHS: ©Rolex Awards/Heine Pedersen, ©Rolex Awards/Marc Latzel, Rolex Awards/Marc Latzel, ©Rolex Awards/Jaques Bélat, ©Rolex Awards/Xavier Lecoultre, WWF-Canon/Jean-Luc Ray

This issue:
Contents | Editorial K. Toepfer | Waking up | Planting security | Natural peace | People | No procrastinating on climate | Attracting private investment | Reshaping the energy and security debate | At a glance: Environmental security | Star profile: Salman Ahmad | How many Earths? | Green helmets | Books and products | Initiative for change | Security in turbulence | Water and war | Beating the ‘resource curse’ | Green peace | It’s poverty, stupid