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SOS Rhino : In the News: Press Releases : April 18th, 2003

SOS Rhino Press Releases



26 May 2003

Each year, the main World Environment Day (WED) celebrations are held in a city at the invitation of a Government. This year it was held in Beirut. WED, considered one of the most important events on the environment calendar, is celebrated every year in more than 100 countries.

The occasion serves to inspire political and community action. Governments, individuals, non-governmental organizations, community and youth groups, business, industry and the media undertake a variety of activities aimed at renewing their commitment to the protection of the environment.

Klaus Toepfer, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), presented the 2003 Global 500 laureates with their award for outstanding achievement at the World Environment Day (WED) celebrations.

Mr. Toepfer said: "Every year it is our privilege to recognize those individuals and groups who have gone beyond the rhetoric and the grand-standing, who have seized the issues and transformed a dream into reality, turned ideas into action on the ground."

SOS Rhino’s Field Research Scientist, the late Dr. Annelisa Kilbourn was among this year’s winners of the prestigious UNEP Global 500 Award.

She was joined by an Indian whose eco-friendly toilet is transforming the health and lives of the urban poor; a Lebanese journalist who has almost single-handedly brought crucial environmental issues to the attention of the Arab world; an individual from Niger whose company is delivering "sustainable development in action"; a litter-busting brigade of Nepalese women who have transformed waste management in this Himalayan mountain kingdom. A team of Bangladeshi lawyers who are bringing environmental and social justice to their country; a visionary Frenchman who, over half a century ago, recognized and pressed for the need for national parks; and a children's group, which helped cut water wastage among communities in the Algerian Sahara, complete the octet of this year's winners.

For more than 2 years, Annelisa worked for SOS Rhino contributing much to wildlife research in Malaysia. She also worked for other conservation organizations in Chicago, including Lincoln Park Zoo and Shedd Aquarium.
Her work in Malaysia to save the endangered Sumatran rhinos of Borneo has given these magnificent animals a chance for survival.

Working with SOS Rhino staff, she developed a computerized wildlife tracking system to facilitate data collection and survey of animal localization in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve on the island of Borneo.

In addition to her work as an SOS Rhino researcher, Annelisa consulted for the Wildlife Conservation Society in Gabon, Congo and CAR. While implementing and conducting research on the health of free-ranging wild populations of apes, she discovered the connection between viral transmission to humans and dwindling ape populations in Gabon.

Annelisa died tragically on the afternoon of November 2 in a small plane accident in the Lope Nature Preserve in Gabon, Africa.

The entire conservation community mourns the loss of this young researcher who in a short time made a difference in protecting some of the world’s most endangered animals” Dr Nan Schaffer, President of SOS Rhino.
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