EJN Awards Six Journalists Story Grants to Highlight Threats to Global Biodiversity 

a close up of a falcon
EJN Awards Six Journalists Story Grants to Highlight Threats to Global Biodiversity 

At the start of this year, six journalists from Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and South America began work on in-depth, ambitious stories to highlight previously untold threats to global biodiversity – and to explore new conservation solutions. 

The journalists were awarded story grants through EJN’s Biodiversity Media Initiative, a multi-year project that seeks to build the capacity of journalists covering biodiversity issues, and improve the quality and quantity of stories on threats to biodiversity, and the solutions to curb them. 

The grantees are:  

  • Aleksandra Pogorzelska, Ukraine – Dagens ETC 
  • Komal Gautham, India – The Times of India 
  • Luiz Fernando Toledo, Brazil – Revista Piauí 
  • Lyse Mauvais, Syria, Iraq, Jordan – Syria Direct  
  • Emilia Paz y Miño, Ecuador – GK 
  • Mochammad Asad, Indonesia – Mongabay 

Biologist and author Mike Shanahan, who manages the Biodiversity Media Initiative, will mentor these journalists as they delve into under-reported threats to specific ecosystems in their respective regions. “This year's story grants will enable journalists to investigate the corruption and criminality that is devastating wildlife, from birds-of-prey in Iraq to sharks in Indonesia and timber trees in Brazil,” says Shanahan. “The journalists will also be covering under-reported topics, from the impacts of Russia's invasion on Ukraine's biodiversity, to the threats facing the wildlife of Ecuador's moorlands. I am looking forward to working with these talented journalists as they develop their stories.” 

Aleksandra Pogorzelska will travel to Ukraine to investigate how Russia’s invasion has impacted local wildlife. National parks have been turned into battlegrounds and many of Ukraine’s unique eco systems are being destroyed. Using citizen reporting and multimedia videos, Pogorzelska will guide readers through the events occurring in Ukraine.  

In India, Komal Gautham will report on wildlife trafficking in Chennai and the growing trend of owning exotic pets. She’ll consider threats including zoonotic diseases which spread as a result of wildlife trafficking, as well as the gaping holes in India’s Wildlife Protection Act. 

In Brazil, Luiz Fernando Toledo will look into illegal exports of endangered pau-brasil or brazilwood timber used to produce high quality violin bows. The tree is one of Brazil’s key sociocultural symbols. Using his experience in data reporting, he’ll investigate the organized crime group behind the trade.  

In Ecuador, Emilia Paz y Miño will investigate how the threats of illegal trafficking and habitat loss have decimated Andean moorland fauna since 2020. They’ll investigate changes in the moorlands in Cotopaxi, Antisana, Quilotoa Moors where human activity is directly affecting this fragile ecosystem. 

In Syria and its neighboring countries, French journalist Lyse Mauvais will investigate falcon trapping and trafficking, which remains rampant in the Middle East. Birds of prey have traditionally been used by local elites in Gulf countries for hunting (a practice called falconry). Her story will delve into the birds’ subsequent journey as they are smuggled overland through Iraq or Jordan to reach the Gulf, despite anti-trafficking efforts in these two countries. 

Finally, Mochammad Asad in Indonesia will cover the illegal shark trade, which has grown to become a booming business in Java. Asad will use data and infographics to illustrate shark and stingray populations in Indonesia.  

Learn more about EJN's Biodiversity Media Initiative here and look out for these grantees’ stories on the EJN website in the upcoming months.    

Banner image: Loopholes in legal regulations have led to widespread trafficking of birds of prey in the Middle East to supply the popular sport of falconry / Credit: Stijn Nieuwendijk via Flickr.  

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