International League of Conservation Writers

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Wilderness Writing Award
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How to Nominate

Wilderness in America

The Iternational League of Conservation Writers is a forum to bring writers together from around the world who are writing to promote wilderness, nature, conservation, or using other means to protect and restore the natural areas, habitats, animals, and plants of our planet. ILCW will present periodic writing awards to authors who excel in this field.

ILCW Members Are Eligible to Use  David R. Brower Office for Conservation Writing
Come write, do research, and be near wild and protected areas in Colorado
while working in the David R. Brower Office of Conservation Writing.
Sit at the same desk used by Dave Brower.
There is no cost to use the office. 
If interested apply here

“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we aredoing to ourselves and to one another.” 
― Mahatma Gandhi

Nominate Now

For the Wilderness Writing Award

The Wilderness Writing Award for lifetime achievement is in recognition of a living writer’s published body of work relating to meaningful and significant writing on wild nature, the environment, or the land. Published writers from anywhere in the world are eligible. Nominations are to be in English, but the body of work does not need to be in English. Any member of the International League of Conservation Writers is eligible to nominate a candidate. This biannual award is a collaborative project between The WILD Foundation, Fulcrum Publishing, and the International League of Conservation Writers and was launched at the 8th World Wilderness Congress in Anchorage, Alaska (2005).

For more information

Past award winners


Mali Elephant Project wins 2017 Equator Prize
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) and partners have recognized the Mali Elephant Project, and 14 other local and indigenous communities from Africa, Asia, and Latin America as winners of this year’s Equator Prize. The winners have used innovative solutions for tackling poverty, environment, and climate challenges.

In a drought-prone zone rife with resource conflicts and violent extremism, the Mali Elephant Project brings together various ethnic groups to effectively manage local resources and protect an internationally important population of 350 endangered African elephants. Through the formation of community-based natural resource management committees, the provision of additional income through support for women’s groups engaged in sustainable harvest of non-timber forest products, and anti-poaching measures involving 'eco-guardian' youth community members, the initiative has reduced poaching of elephants in the 32,000 km² area, improved social cohesion between different local communities, and contributed to peace-building efforts by providing alternatives to joining extremist groups. Communities have created rules for local use of natural resources, set aside forests for elephant use, formed pasture reserves, and designated seasonal water sources to be shared by people, livestock, and elephants.

The Mali Elephant Project is empowering local people to stand up to international poaching networks and protect one of the last of just two remaining desert elephant herds. 

  • Elephants are safer when local communities are empowered to maintain balance with nature
  • The Mali Elephant Project helps communities improve their natural resources and prospects for the future
  • Young men earn prestige and honor as they protect the herd.

Llearn more about the Mali Elephant Project
Listen to Dr. Susan Canney, Project Leader of the Mali Elephant Project and ILCW member (UK), talk about how they noticed the elephants plight and together with the surrounding communities have worked to keep the elephants safe from poachers and human encroachment.

For a list of all 15 Equator Prize winners for 2017

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Save Freshwater Resources
What we can do. For a list of suggestions from No Water No Life click here.

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Study Shows Youth Need Educated in Water Use

No Water No Life has compiled the data from their 2016 survey that tested the awareness of where those in the U.S. get their water. The findings were startling where 28% of the under-18-year-olds admit to wasteful water use and 71% of this same group believed they would have enough water even in times of drought. To read the entire article click here.

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Prince Harry Visits Wilderness Foundation UK

ILCW member Jo Roberts, director of the Wilderness Foundation UK has Prince Harry take part in one of their outdoor classes. Read about Royal visitor for farm education project at BBC News.
Prince Harry joins students as they take part in activities including shelter building and fire lighting.
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LEWA Gives 1,000 Cooking Stoves to Community

In Kenya, where 90% of the rural population uses wood or charcoal fire to prepare their meals, LEWA Wildlife Conservancy has distributed 1,000 energy-saving cooking stoves. The use of the stoves reduces the demand for firewood, promotes the protection of forests, and leads to a reduction of smoke and toxic emissions. Read More.

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No Water No Life Newsletter
Sign up to get No Water No Life’s Weekly Drop Newsletter. To check out all that they do visit their website.

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One of World’s Largest Protected Areas Just Created Off the Coast of Easter Island
The Rapa Nui marine park is approximately the size of Chili. It will protect 142 endemic marine species that include 27 who are threatened with extinction. Read The Guardian article for more information.
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US Administration Considers Selling Power from Hydro-dams to Private Buyers
Will the US Administration sell power from the Columbia River Basin’s 250 hydro-dams to private buyers?  If so, will such for-profit owners maintain the integrity of Bonneville Power’s current federal system that coordinates releases of water, flood control, and spill patterns for fish? See the NY Times article.

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World’s First Panda Cub Born to Captive and Wild Parents
Pandas International announced that on July 31, a panda cub was born from a union between a captive female and wild male. Bringing genes in from the wild panda population will increase the genetic diversity of the captive tribe of pandas. The 15-year-old female giant panda Cao Cao was released into the wild on March 1 of this year. She had shown strong adaptability to living in the wild over the last seven years while at the Hetaoping training center. After nearly two months she was reintroduced to the training center where she had her cub.

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Corporal Souleymane of Mali Elephant Anti-poaching Unit Killed

The Wild Foundation is sad to announce that Caporal Souleymane Tangara, a member of their Mali Elephant Project’s Anti-poaching Unit, was killed by jihadists when responding to an attack on UN personnel in Douentza. To honor his legacy and provide support to the family he leaves behind, his wife and twin daughters, WILD is holding a week-long fundraiser. All funds raised will be sent to Souleymane’s family in Mali. Please consider donating to help provide his family with food, shelter, school fees, clothes, and transition to establishing a means of income. Here

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Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi and Paul Dutton

Annual Rhino Awards Ceremony, Johannesburg, South Africa

News of the Annual Rhino Awards Ceremony held 21 August in Johannesburg comes from ILCW member Paul Dutton. The Rhino Awards purpose is to raise awareness about what is being done to combat rhino poaching. Dutton, had nominated Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi for an award, here are Buthelezi’s comments:

Thank you to Mr Paul Dutton and the Game Ranger Association of Africa for their nomination, and thank you to the sponsors and patrons who make these Awards possible, not least the South African Department of Environmental Affairs.

I am honoured by this recognition of my life’s work in conservation. But I’m far more gratified that I didn’t win. Because the fight for our rhino must be taken up by the next generation. As much as the conservationists and patriots of my generation did, this fight is no longer ours. This is your fight now.

All that I have done over the past six decades to protect our natural heritage has been done with an eye on the future. I have keenly felt this responsibility, first as a traditional leader and then as a leader in politics and governance.

I am proud of the successes of the past. I am proud of how we managed to bring rhino back from near extinction in the seventies, securing their survival and populating parks throughout Africa. I am proud of the successes of the Tembe Elephant Park which I founded in KwaZulu Natal, and which is now a safe haven for our rhino as well.

I am proud to have established South Africa’s first Department of Nature Conservation, and – of course – I am proud of every award I received; because when I started out as a conservationist I was widely mocked for caring more about animals than I did about people.

When a country is waging a liberation struggle, giving attention to wildlife is seldom considered a priority. But to me, it was important. Because I wanted more than a political victory for South Africa. I wanted a rich inheritance.

As many victories and successes as we enjoyed, the fight is not over. Indeed, when it comes to conservation, the fight is heating up. Where I risked my reputation, conservationists now risk their lives.

We honour wildlife activists like Wayne Lotter who have fought against poaching at the cost of their lives. And we honour the men and women who still go out and fight, even as their colleagues fall.

These are the heroes of this generation. It is right that we honour them. I am therefore proud beyond measure to congratulate Mr Jabu Qayiso on winning tonight’s award.

I thank you for continuing this invaluable fight.

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Mali’s Elephants Get New Ally
Not a single elephant has been poached in Mali since the new Malian Combined Army-Ranger Anti-Poaching Brigade was deployed six months ago. In July 2017 three Dutch-trained ivory, weapons, and explosive detection dogs joined the team. To read more go to the Wild Foundation blog.

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Austria’s Kalkalpen National Park Turns 20
Kalkalpen National Park protects the last big forest wilderness of Austria, with the longest natural stream system in the Eastern Alps. Here, nature is the top priority. Colourful natural forests, crystal-clear mountain streams and enchanting alpine pastures provide habitats for an extraordinary diversity of animals and plants. Rare and endangered species, such as the lynx, have returned to the wild forest of Kalkalpen National Park and found a place to live.

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Giant Panda Has Twins
Lin Bing, the first Giant Panda born in Thailand recently gave birth to twins in China. These are the first pandas born at the Shenshuping protection facility in the Wolong National Nature Reserve since the 2008 earthquake that severely damaged the facility.

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Featured Video

Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme

Sanjay Gubbi, ILCW member (India) and winner of the Whitley Award is working to protect tigers in India. Noticing that many people were dependent on the local forest for cooking fuel, which was depleting the tiger habitat, Gubbi and IUCN’s Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme provided cooking stoves to the communities. The stoves used alternate energy sources eliminating the need to gather fuel from the forests and the stoves burned cleaner alleviating a lot of the smoke (and lung damage) caused by burning wood. The time saved by not having to gather wood got more children to school on time thus impacting their education in a positive way.

Previous Featured Videos

Member Writing

Consistently Lovely: the Exceptional Field Notes of Martin H. Moynihan

From gulls to squids to monkeys, a Panama-based biologist melds art and science in his highly detailed field books.
By Rebecca Lawton, ILCW member (USA)  
Previously published by Hakai magazine
Everything about them is beautiful. Martin Humphrey Moynihan’s field notes, illuminated with marvelous drawings and inventive symbols, leap off the page. Moynihan (1928-1996), an expert on animal behavior and founding director of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama, was known for his distinctive, original pencil sketches, and pen-and-ink renderings of birds, primates, and cephalopods. Portraying three disparate groups all known for their complex social interactions, showing behaviors ranging from squids somersaulting to monkeys arch-posturing, Moynihan managed to produce field notes with superb composition, engaging sketches, and splendid handwriting.

Moynihan grew up in Chicago and traveled extensively in Europe as a youth, becoming fluent in French. His secondary education at Horace Mann School in New York City, along with visits to the American Museum of Natural History, led to his interest in birds. After graduating from Princeton University in 1950 (having interrupted his schooling for army service in Korea), and earning a PhD from Oxford in 1953, Moynihan studied gulls from Canada to Ecuador. In 1957, he became resident naturalist on Barro Colorado Island in the Panama Canal’s Gatun Lake, transitioning to director in 1966 when the island’s facilities were consolidated as the STRI. He played a critical role over the next 17 years, developing it into a world-renowned research center.

In 1973, Moynihan retired to Albi, France. His Panama notebooks, however, stayed behind at STRI, until shipped to the Smithsonian Institution Archives a few years ago. To date, two volumes of Moynihan’s extensive records have been made accessible online by the Field Book Project, a joint undertaking of the Archives and Smithsonian Libraries. Moynihan’s field notes stand out. “To find such consistently lovely field notes is unusual,” says Lesley Parilla, database manager and principal cataloger for the Field Book Project. “His hatch marks noting vocalization patterns remind me of Persian rug fringe. His handwriting is superb. He has a very strong sense of the visual.” Using ovals at various tilts to represent the angles of animal posture, and creative abbreviations for behaviors ranging from mutual chattering to head bobbing to fish carrying, Moynihan offers layer on layer of pictorial feast and observation.

Avian ecologist Dr. David Whitacre, former senior research scientist for The Peregrine Fund with ongoing studies in tropical birds, finds Moynihan’s field notes exemplary both technically and aesthetically. “The detailed sketches of postures and behaviors are an indispensable part of his field notes,” says Whitacre. Moynihan’s many abbreviations and symbols allowed him to work quickly to record dozens of behaviors and vocalizations that often occurred in rapid, meaningful sequence. “The notes serve as an exquisite example of the power of meticulous observation and description of the nuances of animal behavior,” says Whitacre. Early field ecologists like Moynihan achieved great things armed only with binoculars, a spotting scope, notebook, and pencil.

View the images from this article.

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Driving tigers to the brink

By Sanjay Gubbi, ILCW Member (India)
Previously published by the IUCN Newsletter

The survival of tigers in the wild depends largely upon the willingness of the tiger range countries to ensure adequate protection of sufficiently large areas from inappropriate development and activities such as roads and poaching.

Roads and traffic threaten tigers across their range in many ways. Research on Amur tigers in Russia suggests that direct mortality due to vehicle collisions can reduce survivorship and reproductive success of the species. The death of individual tigers also results in social instability. The death of a territorial male can lead to infighting of transient males trying to establish territories, infanticide by the new territorial male, and it also affects tigresses due to unstable male ranges possibly leading to depressed birth-rates. Chital and sambar, principal prey species for tigers in the tropical forests of south Asia are one of the commonly killed species in vehicular collisions, resulting in reduced food source for tigers.

Furthermore, roads are used for illegal activities including hunting of tiger and their prey. In the Russian Far East, six Amur tigers were poached over a 10-year period along one road. In 2010, poachers apprehended in southern India confessed to be illegally hunting chital and other deer species in Bandipur, Bhadra, and Biligirirangaswamy Tiger Reserves by driving on roads at night time. continued

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Member Poem

Dawn Song
(5 am, enroute to the spring board meeting of the Wild Foundation)
By Michael McBride, ILCW Member (USA)

The moon’s smile flickers in sparkling waters,
A sliver arc curls into downstream willows.

This is it, I thought, this is all there is, all there needs to be,
Amused, the Pleiades watches for what would unfold.

Alone with my thoughts, a dark highway, a distant city ahead,
A stream running down valley sending up the sun.

Great Spirit, may this building moon guide my thoughts,
Inspire my words, make bold my actions and lead me to a place

Of joy, peace and renewal among my cherished friends

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A Sensory Experience

By Bhavna Menon, ILCW Member (India) Previously published by Nature in Focus

Birdsong, alarm calls and a life-altering experience with 23 visually-impaired children in the forests of Kanha National Park
It is exhilarating to be able to connect children to a forestscape, to watch them form a purely appreciative, non-transactional bond with nature. I have been blessed to be part of an initiative that gives me an opportunity to do just that. 
Last Wilderness Foundation (LWF) has been involved in the Village Kids’ Awareness Programme since the summer of 2012. The programme involves working with students living in the buffer zones of tiger reserves like Bandhavgarh, Kanha and Panna to help them understand the correlation between denizens of the forest and the need to protect them. It helps also, to understand the behaviour of a tiger as that of a wild animal rather than only a source of economic loss for the villagers in form of livestock lifting (which happens more often than not).

However, despite working in this landscape for the past five years, our most surreal experience came this year, in the form of 23 visually-impaired students from the Ananya Manav Sai Samiti, Jabalpur. The enthusiasm shown by these students — complemented by the initiative taken by the Kanha Forest Department and LWF — made it possible for us to take them on a forest safari through Kanha National Park in January for the very first time.  continued

Watch the children enjoy their day out in the jungle








Book Reviews

Bernard Quetchenbach
Accidental Gravity
Residents, Travelers, and the Landscape of Memory
2017, Oregon State University Press
Paperback, 248 page

The compelling essays in Bernard Quetchenbach’s Accidental Gravity move from upstate New York to the western United States, from urban and suburban places to wild lands. In the first section of the book, he focuses on suburban neighborhoods, where residents respond ambivalently to golf-course geese and other unruly natural presences; in the second section, he juxtaposes these humanized places with Yellowstone National Park. Quetchenbach writes about current environmental issues in the Greater Yellowstone area—wildfire, invasive species, ever-increasing numbers of tourists—in the context of climate change and other contemporary pressures.

Accidental Gravity negotiates the difficult edge between a naive belief in an enduring, unassailable natural world and the equally naive belief that human life takes place in some unnatural, more mediated context. The title refers to the accidental but nonetheless meaningful nexus where the personal meets and combines with the universal—those serendipitous moments when the individual life connects to the larger rhythms of time and planet.

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Daniel Hudon
Brief Eulogies for Lost Animals: An Extinction Reader
2017, Pen & Anvil Press
Paperback, 138 pages

In this collection of one hundred brief eulogies, science writer and poet Daniel Hudon gives a literary voice to the losses stacking up in our present-day age of extinction. Natural history, poetic prose, reportage, and eulogy blend to form a tally of degraded habitats, and empty burrows, and of the songs of birds never to be heard again. Since the year 1500, nine hundred species have become extinct, yet their stories are not being told. This loss is a crisis in human values as our relatives on the tree of life are disappearing under our watch and because of our actions. There are no historical parallels here. Aldo Leopold said, “For one species to mourn another is a new thing under the sun.” In terse yet evocative writing, one hundred extinct animals from around the world are brought to life, from the freshwater mussels of Appalachia to the shrub frogs of Sri Lanka, and from the honeycreepers of Hawaii to the hopping mice of Australia, bringing the enormity of the present biodiversity crisis within our grasp. These animals deserve to be remembered, and with this book we can not only remember and mourn them, but honor them as well.

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Paul Dutton

Spirit of the Wilderness
2017, 30 Degrees South Publishers
Paperback, 320 pages

This is an autobiographical account of a career in conservation and of an abiding love affair with Spirit of the Wilderness, a Piper Super Cub, two-seater, light aircraft. It tells of a partnership between man and machine, which proved invaluable in countless campaigns to support and conserve wildlife and wilderness areas in southern Africa. A chance encounter in 1953 with the late Dr. Ian Player, South Africa's greatest name in conservation led to a career in that field which still continues after nearly sixty years. There are detailed and absorbing accounts of stewardship during the 1960s and 1970s of some of South Africa’s best loved and most beautiful reserves; Lake St Lucia, iMfolozi, Ndumo, and later the Gorongosa National Park, Zinave and the Bazaruto Archipelago in Mozambique. There are tales of hair-raising episodes and some serious mishaps at the wheel of Spirit of the Wilderness, and on the ground, the author records what he was privileged to learn from the knowledge, experience and wisdom of indigenous game guards and local communities in South Africa and Mozambique. The reader will encounter a huge diversity of flora and fauna, both terrestrial and marine, some of it now perilously endangered, and also a remarkable cast of fellow eminent conservationists, filmmakers, writers, sangomas, soldiers and bandits from two wars in Mozambique, and is introduced to that country's then president Samora Machel, with whom Paul came to have an intriguingly cordial relationship.

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Lori Robinson (ILCW member) and Janie Chodosh

Wild Lives

Leading Conservationists on the Animals and the Planet They Love

2017, Skyhorse Publishing
Hardcover, 224 pages
Passionate and inspiring,Wild Lives is an important and timely reminder of the beauty and fragility of our world and the obligation that every person has towards preserving it.

“Almost every day we hear one more story about a species facing extinction, a habitat destroyed. And indeed, planet earth has never been so threatened by human actions. This is why Wild Lives is so desperately important. The people in this book are united by their belief that it is not too late to turn things around. You will be inspired by their stories. You will realize that there is hope for the future if we join the fight, if each of us does our bit.”

Jane Goodall, PhD, DBE,
and UN Messenger of Peace,
founder of the Jane Goodall Institute

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Calls for Work and Retreats

Alluvian accepts creative nonfiction, science journalism and science narratives, cartoons and art, and/or narrative analysis of data related to sustainability, climate change, the environmental sciences, the human engagement with nature, or other topics about the environment. Authors must be an undergraduate or have graduated with an undergraduate degree within the last 18 months.

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The Fourth River has launched Tributaries, a weekly, online publication of "...the brief and the inspiring, that which sustains and takes us through unexpected courses..." Nature or placed based short prose (500 words ), one poem, or one piece of visual art can be submitted here.  Each week we will feature a new piece on the front page of web site.
Thank you to our source: Adrienne Ross Scanlan

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 The Hudson: A River at Risk -- Upcoming Screenings
Jon Bowermaster, ILCW member (USA) and filmmaker has set up a series of screenings about the Hudson River and the environmental dangers it encounters. To see if there is a screening near you (or to schedule one) click here.To see the film trailer click here.

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 April 21--May 2, 2018

Weaving Words and Women: A 12-day Peruvian Adventure
ILCW member Page Lambert will take adventurous women to the high Andes of Peru next April. There will be writing, markets, incredible food, horseback riding opportunities, Inca ruins, and more. For details, click here.





February 16-28, 2018

Serengeti Photo Safari: Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti Migration
Boyd Norton, ILCW member and winner of the Ansel Adams Award for Conservation Photography, is leading his 31st photo tour to Tanzania. You will see the Ngorongoro Crater, as well as the stunning Serengeti Animal Migration at its peak. Special for this tour: a presentation from the director of the Serengeti Preservation Foundation about the many projects underway and the current threats to this wonderful ecosystem. For more information, and to view the itinerary, click here.


ILCW now on Facebook 
ILCW members, please check out the ILCW Facebook page and add content.

Tell us what you are working on, what changes you see in the area of conservation (good and bad) in your area, include news from you: have you recently won any awards or accolades? Have you recently published a new book or article or perhaps finished a piece of art, performance piece, photo that glorifies the natural world? This page is for you, please enjoy and generate interest in ILCW and what we do.

ILCW facebook

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 Looking for Creative People Who Appreciate Nature Do you have a friend or a colleague who is passionate about Nature and believes that we should protect what we have for future generations? ILCW welcomes all creative people (not just writers) who use their talent to bring awareness to the plight of our natural world. Have them apply to be an ILCW member at http://www.ilcwriters.org/application.html

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Do you have news?

Let us know if you have won an award, written a new book, or launched a creative endeavor to bring awareness to conservation. Chances are the ILCW membership is not aware of these things, so be sure and tell us. Send items to:patty@ilcwriters.org

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