Professor nominated for world’s leading animal conservation award

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A professor at Oxford Brookes University has been nominated for the prestigious Indianapolis Prize 2018 for her pioneering conservation work and research.

Regarded as the world’s leading award for animal conservation, the Indianapolis Prize recognises and rewards conservationists from around the world who have achieved major victories in saving the lives of endangered and threatened animals.

Anna Nekaris, Professor in Primate Conservation and Anthropology at Oxford Brookes University, is a pioneering researcher who is responsible for much of our knowledge of Asia’s secretive, nocturnal primates – the slender and slow lorises.

Slow lorises, the world’s only venomous primate, are found in areas of southern and south-eastern Asia and are endangered due to habitat loss and being hunted for both the illegal pet and traditional medicine trades.

Commenting on her award nomination, Prof Nekaris said:

“Trying to make the public and the scientific community aware of the plight of the slow loris has been a monumental task. When I started my work, the threat to these small brown nocturnal primates was virtually unrecognised. This nomination makes me realise our efforts have been a success!”

Since beginning her PhD in 1995, Prof Nekaris has dedicated her career to understanding the biology and conservation of lorises and has inspired others to follow in her footsteps through her teaching on the award-winning MSc in Primate Conservation at Oxford Brookes University.

Anna runs a field site in Java, where slow lorises are under the greatest threat, and is the founder and Director of The Little Fireface Project – the world’s longest running slow loris conservation project.

The project aims to save the primate by learning more about its ecology and educating local people and law enforcement officers in the countries where slow lorises exist. The research extends to other countries, such as Japan, where slow lorises are illegally traded as pets.

The project team is particularly unique with their work on social media, which is used to thwart the view that slow lorises make good pets. Since Anna’s campaigns, conservation messages now pervade the comments sections of videos shared across the internet, bringing awareness to an international audience.

Anna teaches a course on environmental education and has supervised over 90 postgraduate research projects by students from slow loris range countries, including Java, India, Sabah Malaysia, Cambodia, Sumatra and Singapore. Many of these students now work on conservation projects of their own.

Anna has edited eight and written two books and published over 160 peer-reviewed papers. She frequently appears in the UK and international media talking about her research, including on the award-winning Natural World documentary Jungle Gremlins of Java.

Michael Crowther, President and CEO of the Indianapolis Zoo which initiated the Indianapolis Prize said: “The 2018 Indianapolis Prize Nominees represent many of the most significant and accomplished wildlife conservationists in the field today.

They are protecting species and creating successful conservation methods that ensure future generations will live in a flourishing and sustainable world.”

The Indianapolis Prize awards $250,000 (USD) to the most successful animal conservationist in the world, while five finalists will each receive $10,000 (USD).

The winner and finalists of the award will be announced during the Indianapolis Prize Gala on 29 September 2018.

More information about Anthropology and Primate Conservation courses at Oxford Brookes University can be found on the Department of Social Sciences webpages.