August 18, 2015
Boulder, Colorado
Carolyn Greene, Executive Director
African Conservation Centre US

African Conservation Centre Founder, Dr. David Western is a Nominee for the World’s Biggest Conservation Award, the 2016 Indianapolis Prize

The African Conservation Centre U.S. is pleased to announce that the founding executive director of African Conservation Centre in Kenya, Dr. David Western, is a nominee for the 2016 Indianapolis Prize. Initiated in 2005 by the Indianapolis Zoo, this prize is recognized as the world’s leading award for animal conservation. The Indianapolis Prize is awarded biennially to an individual who has made extraordinary contributions to conservation efforts involving an animal species or group of species. In addition to a $250,000 cash award, the winner — selected from among six finalists — receives the Lilly Medal and each of the other five finalists receives $10,000. Finalists will be honored at the next Indianapolis Prize Gala to be held Oct. 15, 2016.

Dr. Western was selected as a nominee for his more than 48 years of pioneering research and community-based conservation strategies in East Africa. He was among the first scientists to recognize the limitations of national parks and investigate how humans and wildlife can coexist. His pioneering community-based conservation work has served as a model for finding a place for wildlife beyond parks around the world.

Dr. David Wester, Former Director Kenya Wildlife Service

David Western as Director of Kenya Wildlife Service launched the Parks Beyond Parks movement to promote community-based conservation and wildlife conservancies which now protect more wildlife than national parks.

As former executive director and current chairman of African Conservation Centre, director of Kenya Wildlife Service and conservation director for Wildlife Conservation Society International, Western has been a leader in many areas of conservation, including research, international programs, short and long-term conservation planning, ecotourism, training, directing governmental and non-governmental organizations and public education.

He established the Wildlife Planning Unit in Kenya in 1978, was the chairman of the African Elephant and Rhino Specialist Group in the 1980s, founding president of the International Ecotourism Society, chairman of the Wildlife Clubs of Kenya and Carter Chair of Conservation Biology, Wildlife Conservation Society. He established the “Parks Beyond Parks” movement to promote communities setting up their own wildlife sanctuaries and enterprises and led efforts to set up the first community-based wildlife conservancies in Kenya. Western also promoted horizontal learning exchanges in East Africa and around the world so that communities can learn first-hand from each other’s experience.

Western has pioneered and championed the community-based conservation movement around the world since the 1970s. He was awarded a Maasai orinka leadership stick for his services to the community of Amboseli in delivering ecotourism benefits and payment for ecosystem services for migratory wildlife from Amboseli National Park using their lands.


During his many national and international assignments, Western has continued his groundbreaking research in Amboseli. The Amboseli Conservation Program he set up in 1967 is the longest running ecosystem research program in Africa. His research has pioneered the integration of human-wildlife studies, underscored the significance of pastoralism in savanna ecosystems, shown the underlying basis of human-wildlife coexistence in the savannas and developed many of the basic techniques for studying and monitoring large mammal ecosystems. His research into the life history and ecology of large mammals has been cited as one of the foundational studies in the new field of macroecology. His articles have appeared in Science, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Bioscience, PLoS, Ecology and other prominent science journals.


A plate from In the Dust of Kilimanjaro, which details the story of rekindling traditional Maasai values of living with wildlife as their second cattle in times of drought. Western was given cattle by fried Parashino, to understand Amboseli through the eyes of a cow.

Western’s work included human ecology as an integral part of his savannah ecosystem research from its outset in 1967. His relationship with pastoral societies and insights on traditional knowledge and practices fostering coexistence with wildlife has been an important feature of his conservation work over the years.


His honors include the World Ecology Award, Harris World Ecology Center at the University of Missouri-St. Louis; Conservation Medal, Zoological Society of San Diego; Lifetime Achievement Award by the International Ecotourism Society; Order of the Golden Ark; San Diego Zoo Conservation Medal, Cincinnati Zoological Society; and Elder of the Burning Spear.

Western’s publications include Conservation for the Twenty-first Century (OUP, 1989), Natural Connections: Perspectives in Community-based Conservation (Island Press, 1994) and In the Dust of Kilimanjaro (Shearwater, 2001). He earned his bachelor’s degree from Leicester University in England and his doctorate from the University of Nairobi in Kenya. Leicester University awarded him a prestigious “Doctor of Science” in 2002.


About ACC US

Established in 2014, African Conservation Centre US (ACC-US) exists to provide support for the African Conservation Centre (ACC) in Kenya and other community-based wildlife conservation initiatives in Africa. Founded by Dr. David Western and a committed group of board members, ACC-US raises, administers, and grants funds and resources for ACC and other charitable organizations and programs that link science, conservation and people to sustain biodiversity.

About ACC

African Conservation Centre’s mission is to conserve biodiversity in East Africa and beyond through the collaborative application of scientific and indigenous knowledge, improved livelihoods and good governance through development of local institutions.

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