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Kenyan ecologist honored

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 12 – Local ecologist, Dr Paula Kahumbu, has been named one of the 16 fellows of the prestigious PopTech Social Innovation Fellows program of 2009 for her work at WildlifeDirect.

PopTech, a renowned Ideas Summit and innovation Network dedicated to accelerating the positive impact of world-changing people, projects and ideas’, announced that Dr Kahumbu was among the Class of 2009 of the Social Innovation Fellows.

According to the PopTech statement: "Dr Paula Kahumbu will be taking the WildlifeDirect idea and experience to PopTech to share with the other fellows."

The WildlifeDirect idea was developed by Dr Richard Leakey and associates to bring together conservationists working in remote and often dangerous places – mostly in Africa but also in Asia and South America – and supporters of conservation through blogs.

"The model enables individual donors throughout the world to communicate directly with the people they are funding," says the release.

Media Liaison, Samuel Maina said Friday; "The overall goal of WildlifeDirect is to build a strong online movement capable of responding to emergencies and reverse the catastrophic loss of habitats and wild species. We pioneered the model of fundraising for wildlife through blogs."

He said millions of people read the blogs and tens of thousands have made donations.

"Almost a million dollars have been raised for conservation emergencies such as saving gorillas in war-torn Virunga in the Democratic Republic of Congo, rescuing the Maasai Mara during Kenya’s post-election violence and resultant collapse of tourism at the beginning of 2008, saving lions and many other endangered species," details Maina.

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More than 100 different conservation projects in 27 countries tell their daily stories on the WildlifeDirect platform. WildlifeDirect is simply the largest wildlife blogging platform in the world.

The WildlifeDirect Executive Director and the rest of the 16 fellows, described in the release as ‘a corps of visionary change agents incubating high-impact approaches to some of the world’s most pressing social, economic and environmental challenges, have been invited to a five-day intensive ‘boot camp’ in the USA.

They are also to participate in the PopTech 2009: America Re-imagined in October 21-24, 2009 at Camden, Maine, USA where they will present their ideas on stage to more than 700 conference attendees and thousands who will participate via live stream.

This according to the PopTech faculty, will begin their entry into PopTech’s rich network of mentors, influencers, contributors and resources.

Each year, PopTech selects 10-20 high potential change agents from around the world who are working on highly disruptive innovations in areas like healthcare, energy, development, climate, education, and civic engagement, among many others.

Fellows work in both the for-profit and not-for-profit worlds, have a minimum of 3-5 years experience, and are working in organizations that are well positioned for sustainable growth.

The 2009 fellows program – which is the second since inception – attracted more than 200 applicants from more than 30 countries. Of the 16 selected, only three are from Africa, two of whom are Kenyan.

Although a number of these fellows deal with climate change and clean energy, only Dr Kahumbu has been selected for her work in using the internet to raise awareness and funds for wildlife conservation – especially in Africa.

The 16 fellows represent organizations based in or running projects in USA, UK, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and Kenya.

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