Ms. Leonie Vejjajiva is Founder and President of the non-profit Wildlife Rescue Foundation of Thailand. She operates a sanctuary for primates rescued from abusive situations or confiscated by Thai wildlife authorities. She cares for at least 60 primates, most of them endangered gibbons. Her work is extremely stressful because of the appalling condition in which animals are brought to her. She is now working with Thai wildlife authorities to establish a sanctuary on Government land outside Bangkok. She is constantly working to educate the Thai people and foreign residents not to buy wildlife for use as pets. One of Mrs. Vejjajiva's most remarkable accomplishments was her role in the famous "Bangkok Six" case. This case involved six baby orangutans confiscated at Bangkok Airport on 30 February 1990. The animals were sent to Mrs. Vejjajiva for care. It was learned that the person responsible was an animal smuggler residing in Bangkok who had been involved in illegal trafficking for 10 years, mainly in Australian birds. Mrs. Vejjajiva contacted him and obtained a great deal of detail about the story, which confirmed the involvement of another smuggler who was later indicted. Mrs. Vejjajiva agreed to come to Miami to testify against this smuggler despite threats.
Dr. Edgar Wayburn
Dr. Edgar Wayburn, is a Sierra Club volunteer who in the course of 50 years of environmental work has saved 106,271.000 acres of public protected land.
At 87 years of age, he is still active in nature conservation through his role as Chairman of the International Committee of the Sierra Club and as Honorary President of the Sierra Club.
He was instrumental in establishing the Redwood National Park through his personal relationship with key national legislators and agency staff and he drafted documents and prepared and gave testimony at Government hearings.
His campaign to establish the Golden gate National Recreation Area in California were similar to his efforts for the Redwoods.
His involvement in Alaska is even more phenomenal. He and his wife tramped and canoed much of the areas and again his ability to mobilize national action was decisive. It was he who approached the Sierra Club Board to take on the issue of identifying wild areas in Alaska for protected status. He was very much involved in structuring the coalition of environmental groups, which planned the political strategy to bring about success.
His dedication to the protection of the wild is unmatched.
Zhongwei Gusha Forestry Farm
Natural conditions are bad in the Zhongwei Gusha Forestry Farm region, with annual rainfall of 80 mm accompanied by yearly evaporation of about 3,000 mm. Founded in 1957 the farm is responsible for dune-fixing and for defending China's first desert line.
Over the past three decades 67.38 million seedlings have been grown; 55.12 million trees planted; 680,000 acres of land covered with grass hedges; and orchards built on 1,130 acres. These have formed an 800-metre-wide green protective screen on either side of the 55-km Zhongwei-Gantang rail line. The number of windy and dusty days in a year have been reduced from 330 to 122. The above measures have effectively protected cultivated land and provided 280,000 acres of fertile farmland. In addition, biological varieties increase daily.
There are now 147 kinds of animals and 260 plant species that thrive in the forests. The region encompasses 12 kinds of wild creatures and 453 species of plants. The farm yields output worth 100 million yuan a year. The farm has won several awards including a special National Scientific Progress Prize.
On 14 August 1993, Zulekha Ali, a young journalist who had made a name for herself in environmental journalism in a short career spanning just one year, lost her life to the waves while saving another girl from drowning.
She did a series of investigative environmental stories for her newspaper, The News, and almost everything she wrote triggered action because she followed up. Last July, the local town committee decided to turn the only children's park in the area into a maternity home, despite the fact that there were already several homes there. Zulekha did a story on the conversion mobilizing the community who took the matter to court. A stay order was obtained and the park was saved.
Last summer a dozen people drowned in the sea while celebrating the festival Eid. The cause? Illegal sand excavations and inadequate beach safety. Zulekha Ali highlighted this issue and as result Section 144 was imposed in the area prohibiting sand excavation.
Last May, a lethal chemical used in the dyeing industry was dumped along Lyari River, causing the death of two people. Zulekha followed the trial of the chemical and discovered that about 1,460 drums of the same chemical were laying in the customs warehouse. Zulekha's investigation revealed that a large number of chemicals were still dumped. This report resulted in the involvement of environmental agencies and thanks to her efforts toxic chemicals are not treated in the same passive way.
CenterStage Children's Theatre Troupe
The CenterStage Childen's Theatre Troupe is a group of young performers, ages eight to 20, who take their original musicals to schools, communities and conventions and represents 20 who take their original musicals to schools, communities and conventions an represents 20 school districts from Wisconsin. Their flagship musical, To Save the Planet, is about the global environment and has been performed 115 times for over 43,000 people. It is inter-generational and illustrates the consequences of our actions on the environment. The members have become ambassadors for the environment and have joined forces with the Children's Alliance for Protection of the Environment (CAPE). They work in separate schools to organize environmental clubs and CAPE chapters. They help to clean up neighbourhoods, recycle and conserve. The American Library Association's Book list reviewed the cast album and said "a thoroughly professional, polished performance". And Wisconsin's Governor said To Save the Planet is a shining example of the type of work that must be done today to ensure our happiness and livelihood tomorrow". By selling the script to schools, hundreds of kids across the United States of America have been able to put on the musical themselves. It has been performed abroad by schools in Mexico, Taipei, Taiwan and Peru.
Fundacion Ecologica Arcoiris
Fundacion Ecologica Arcoiris, an ecological NGO in southern Ecuador, focuses on the protection of the Podocarpus National Park. Founded in 1989 by a group of university students, it has grown into an important regional organization, made up of volunteers, students and interested persons whose activities range from environmental education to scientific investigation to lobbying and public awareness. One of their first actions was education in schools and universities (a transition which continues) through lectures, conferences and field trips. They also make scientific investigations of the plant and animal life of the Park. In 1992, they completed a study of the threatened Mountain Tapir and of the Romerillo, the only native conifer of Ecuador. They also monitor bird species. One of the major threats to the Park is mining and logging which Arcoiris is trying to keep out. In 1993, they succeeded in pressuring a Norwegian mining company to leave the Park. They were also able to stop two proposed roads that would have opened the Park to further destruction from mining and logging. In March 1993, Arcoiris won a long court battle that mandates the Ministry of Agriculture to stop granting mining contracts within the Park.
Omar Castillo Gallegos
When only 8 years old, Omar Castillo, mobilized public opinion in Mexico after watching a TV programme on the destruction of the rainforests in the province of Chiapas. In 1985, he convinced his father to walk more than 1,000 km to these forests.
After this experience and based on what he learned from the indigenous people, he decided to return to Mexico City and walk seven days and six nights around the Central Plaza until the President agreed to see him. When the President accepted, Omar asked him to save the forests and the Lacandones Indians.
In January 1986, he gathered more than 5,000 children in Cancun in a campaign to save Lake Nichupte. That same year, he met the Secretary of Public Education and asked him to include Ecology in all free school books - a request, which became a reality. In July 1986, he bicycled to nine Mexican states to raise awareness of the pollution of the seas, rivers and lakes. He has also organized clean-up campaigns for children and a food aid campaign to save the Tarhumaras Indians.
His activities have earned him world-wide attention and international media coverage.
Kids For Coral
Kids for Coral, begun four years ago on the Island of Guam, was designed as a year-long project for seventh graders, however, due to the members' enthusiasm and a feeling that there was still much to be done, the project has continued. Kids for Coral now boasts a membership of 125, comprising students from grades seven to twelve.
When Kids for Coral was formed, Guam was undergoing tremendous growth. Erosion at construction sites resulted in sediment washing into the oceans and suffocating coral reefs. In some areas, up to 90 per cent of the reefs were damaged or destroyed. Poaching, sewage outfall, overfishing and harvesting of live coral also contributed to reef destruction. The goal of Kids for Coral has been to promote awareness of this issue and of the importance of preserving coral reefs.
Highlights of their achievements include: Reef Motif art show at Guam's art gallery; beach clean-ups; window displays on reefs; articles in newspapers; testimony at hearings against underwater observatory; save the reef week; island-wide essay contest; presentations at public and private schools; fundraising; publication of newsletter Reef Briefs; radio and TV talk shows; and conferences for 350 middle school students on the subject.
The Municipal Ecologic Brigade
The Municipal Ecologic Brigade was founded in 1992 as a youth movement for young people between the ages of six and 18 years of age. Their focus is environmental awareness. It has more than 4000 members and operates throughout Nicaragua.
In collaboration with local authorities, they coordinate environmental activities such as seed collection, creation of tree nurseries, waste disposal, clean-up campaigns and reforestation. This Brigade represents the fastest growing civic movements in Nicaragua and their motto is: "For our Future we are the Brigades".