Every year, WCS celebrates wildlife conservation champions in China, generating significant media coverage to raise public awareness about poaching and illegal trade in endangered species and to encourage public support in this endeavor. Monetary and in-kind incentives are provided to outstanding contributors within law enforcement agencies, NGOs and the media.
This initiative has successfully taken place since 2008 reaching its 5th edition this year. Beyond the awards, through this activity WCS fosters greater media exposure to the passionate commitment of the competing candidates by featuring their stories in online platforms and traditional media articles and documentaries. Additionally, we promote capacity building workshops for law enforcement agencies to spread the best practices and lessons learned of the winning Wildlife Guardians.
Initially established to encourage more effective anti-poaching patrolling along the 21,000 km borders that separate China from 14 neighboring countries, this initiative has eventually expanded in scope accepting candidates from all over China, both from government agencies and the civil society.
From 2008 to 2012, Wildlife Guardian Action applicants have more than doubled. A total of 253 applications have been accepted so far, coming from more than 10 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions. An experts panel has bestowed 17 golden, 25 silver and 28 bronze awards. These consist in equipment and tools for government officers, and in cash for civil society activists.
Beside these prizes, WCS China has trained hundreds of front line officers to stimulate greater awareness about illegal wildlife trade and upgrade their skills to the latest anti-poaching and animal identification techniques. Several bureaus all across China have joined our seminars including Customs, Forestry Police, Border Guards, various Nature Reserve officers, and other law enforcement agencies both at the national and local level. These activities have allowed WCS to consolidate our reputation, thus facilitating stable relations and opening avenues for expanded cooperation activities.