In a letter received by the Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH), a conservation organization founded by Uganda Veterinarian Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, Prof. Douglas A. Kelt expressed his “distinct and substantial pleasure” as President of the American Society of Mammalogists (ASM) in writing to announce some good news.
The Aldo Leopold Memorial Award was established by the ASM in 2002 to recognize outstanding contributions to the conservation of mammals and their habitats. Dr. Kalema-Zikusoka was recently named as the recipient of this year’s award.
The inaugural winner of this award was E. O. Wilson of Harvard University in 2003 for his valuable contributions to mammalian conservation through his development and promotion of the concepts of biodiversity.
“The award honors the memory of a global leader in mammal conservation, the father of wildlife ecology, and an active member of the ASM and of Conservation of Land Mammals Committee. Recent recipients of this award include a veritable ‘who’s who’ of global leaders in mammal conservation, including Russell Mittermeier, George Schaller, Rodrigo Medellin, Rubén Barquez, Dean Biggins, Larry Heaney, Andrew Smith, Marco FestaBianchet, Gerardo Ceballos, Steve Goodman, and most recently, Bernal Rodríguez Herrerra.
“Your efforts with the Uganda Wildlife Authority, in particular in managing wildlife translocations to repopulate national parks after the civil war, stand out for their impact on the preservation of wild populations as well as contributions to tourism – and all that tourism contributes to conservation – by restoring wildlife communities in multiple parks. Your continued work as a veterinarian, and in training young Ugandans for conservation, serve to broaden understanding and appreciation of wildlife, wildlife health, and their importance to conservation. Your subsequent work establishing Conservation Through Public Health NGO provides a model for effective integration of human and wildlife health with habitat conservation, providing for successful ecotourism and improved health and security for gorillas.
“The associated Gorilla Conservation Camp and Gorilla Conservation Coffee (and the Gorilla Conservation Café in Entebbe [Uganda] provide venues for you and your team to broaden your efforts at education while working to improve the lives of local residents and promote a future where gorillas and people can share this region of the world,” the letter reads in part.
“I am greatly humbled to receive this prestigious award, which has been received by truly inspiring conservationists – some of whom have mentored me, including Russell Mittermeier, George Schaller, and Rodrigo Medellin,” Dr. Kalema-Zikusoka noted upon receiving the good news and as is posted on her facebook wall.
The chairperson of the award committee, Prof. Erin Baerwald, described the 2020 winners as “inspiring women and conservation leaders.”
Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the winners are unable to travel to America to follow normal procedures of receiving the awards, however, there is a plan to have them give a virtual presentation during a conference which is slated to take place next year. The date and time will be announced in the future.
Uganda Veterinarian Dr. Kalema-Zikusoka holds a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) and a Masters in Specialized Veterinary Medicine from NC State University.