Last month the prestigious Whitley Gold award was presented to Colombian biologist Angela Maldonado for her efforts in fighting the illegal night monkey trade in the Amazon Rainforest.
London was once again the host of the annual awards, one of the world’s most prominent grassroots conservation prizes. This year, Colombian biologist Angela Maldonado received the highest honour, the Whitley Gold Award, for her efforts in fighting the illegal trade of night monkeys in the Amazon rainforest.
Georgina Domberger, director of the Whitley Fund for Nature, the organisation in charge of the award praised the decision, saying “The judges were particularly impressed by her brave stand against the illegal trade in night monkeys for biomedical research, which is said to be responsible for the loss of 4,000 wild monkeys a year.”
She added: “The aim of the Whitley Awards is to identify and fund leading grassroots conservationists from around the world who are using their scientific expertise and local knowledge to inspire real and positive change for people and wildlife and the habitats they share.”
Night monkeys and dried fruit
Maldonado founded the Entropika Foundation in 2007 to regulate the illegal trafficking of night monkeys on the borders of Colombia, Brazil and Peru. The main mission of the foundation has been to provide economic alternatives to the region’s indigenous population. For more than 25 years, according to Maldonado, the locals used to capture the animals for a laboratory that is researching a cure for malaria.
“Through all the crookedness of this, there is a chain of illegality that is linked to the trafficking of these animals,” Maldonado said.
“The Whitley Award helps us very much as it will protect us if the laboratory gets mad at us,” she added. “With this money we can combat a crime that is going unpunished and make the governments help us to fight this.”
The region’s indigenous population is tired of being exploited and is seeking ways of escaping the yoke of the laboratory. Maldonado and Entropika will use the £60,000 award to build a factory that freeze-dries plants and fruit so locals can sell crops and medicinal plants to replace these illegal activities.