“The Indianapolis Prize has two primary functions,” said Michael I. Crowther, President & CEO of the Indianapolis Zoological Society, which administers the award. “First, it rewards and honors animal conservationists who are actually achieving notable successes. Secondly, it provides them with a more effective platform from which they can tell the stories of their work to a wide range of audiences … especially the public.”
Spanning almost 40 years of work in Mauritius, Jones has brought back at least nine species from the brink of extinction — including the Mauritius kestrel, pink pigeon, echo parakeet, Rodrigues warbler and Rodrigues fody, and has worked to restore the populations of many more species. Through programs that implement hands-on animal husbandry techniques developed in contemporary zoological institutions, Jones has delivered results that are truly awe-inspiring: of the 63 bird, mammal and amphibian species worldwide that have been down-listed on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as a result of conservation initiatives, he has led the recovery efforts for six of them.
“I know of no other conservationist who has directly saved so many species from extinction,” said Dr. Simon N. Stuart, Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, who nominated Jones for the award.
“Winning the 2016 Indianapolis Prize is undoubtedly one of the highlights of my career,” said Jones. “It’s a great accolade not just for me, but for Gerry Durrell and the people who have made this work possible over the years. I’m particularly proud of this award because it validates the conservation of animals — like Telfair’s skinks and pink pigeons — that are not megavertebrates, but provide critically important ecosystem services nonetheless.”
As the 2016 Indianapolis Prize Winner, Jones, Chief Scientist of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and Scientific Director of the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, will receive an unrestricted $250,000 cash award and the Lilly Medal.