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American Humane, the world’s largest certifier of animal welfare practices, awarded Dr Jon Paul Rodriguez, chair of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Species Survival Commission, with the Wolfgang Kiessling International Award for Species Conservation on 24 June in Washington D.C.

The award, created in honour of Wolfgang F. Kiessling, founder of Loro Parque and a globally recognised leader in the field of conservation, is the world’s premier award for conservation and recognises those who make a significant positive difference in the field of conservation practice, theory and research.

“We want to recognise leading conservation scientists who are making significant changes in the field,” said Mr Kiessling. “We had remarkable candidates and each of them receives our utmost respect and admiration for their tireless work to protect our planet’s wildlife,” he added.

Dr Rodriguez was selected from a field of dozens of nominees from 16 countries on five continents, leading projects globally in virtually every aspect of conservation.

“We know how to do conservation, we just need to do more,” said Dr Rodriguez. He explained: “Much more money is spent on destroying nature than on protecting it. If we let nature recover, it will come back. With these efforts we aim to tip the balance slightly in favour of species and ecosystems, and let them do their job in reversing the trends of biodiversity decline.

“Dr. Rodriguez has spent a lifetime fighting for the preservation of biodiversity and is leading what may be the world’s most effective coordinated effort to save endangered species,” said American Humane President and CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert. “His life’s work has literally been saving the world,” she added.

The recognition comes with an $80,000 grant to further Dr Rodriguez’s work to make contributions to the practical and theoretical application of species protection. The award was presented during a special ceremony in Washington D.C. Distinguished guests included Mr. Wolfgang F. Kiessling and his family; American Humane board members; retired Marine Colonel Scott Campbell; retired US Navy Rear Admiral Tom Kearney; and members of the global conservation community.