Kenyan conservationist feted for work with insects

April 30, 2015 1:54 pm
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Martin has won the coveted Whitley Gold Award and was feted by HRH the Princess Royal Anne on Wednesday night at the Royal Geographical Society in London/COURTESY
Martin has won the coveted Whitley Gold Award and was feted by HRH the Princess Royal Anne on Wednesday night at the Royal Geographical Society in London/COURTESY
NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 30 – Kenyan conservationist Dino Martins has won a Sh7.3 million award for his efforts to preserve pollinators.

Martin has won the coveted Whitley Gold Award and was feted by HRH the Princess Royal Anne on Wednesday night at the Royal Geographical Society in London.

“Dino Martins is a truly worthy winner of the 2015 Whitley Gold Award. Against enormous challenges, he has transformed the lives of farmers in Kenya, through his work promoting the importance of bees and other pollinators which put food on our tables and money in farmers’ pockets,” Edward Whitley, Founder of the Whitley Fund for Nature, enthused.

The award, the Fund administrators stated, would help Martins further his work by enabling him raise the awareness of more farmers on the necessity of preserving the lives of pollinators such as butterflies, moths, beetles, wasps and bees.

“The Whitley Gold Award will enable Dino to expand his conservation efforts to a new level: working with 4,000 additional farmers; tackling the importation, use and spread of unregistered pesticides entering Africa and; educating 200,000 people about the importance of pollinators and sustainable agriculture,” WFN explained.

The holder of a PhD from Harvard, Dino has spearheaded the development of legislation to specifically protect bees from harmful pesticides and is a Technical Advisor to the UN Food & Agricultural Organisation (FAO).

He first won a Whitley award in 2009 and went on to win additional funding from the WFN in 2011.

The latest feather in his cap is the highest recognition one’s conservation efforts can get from the WFN.

“The Gold Award singles out outstanding people achieving significant conservation impact,” the charity makes clear.

Paula Kahumbu is another Kenyan conservationist who has won a Whitley prize, in 2014, for her work to combat poaching through the #HandsOffOurElephants campaign.

Martins might be working on conserving much smaller animals, but the WFN made clear that his work is just as important:

“One of every three bites of food we eat is dependent on pollinators. The provision of this free ‘ecosystem service’ is worth an estimated $250 billion annually to the global economy. Without pollinators, the planet’s food security would be at risk, with significant livelihood ramifications; and billions would need to be spent to pollinate crops artificially.

However, the increased use of agricultural pesticides and loss of natural habitats has led pollinator numbers to decline dramatically.”

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