EJN Wraps Up 2023 Biodiversity Story Grants and Travel Scholarships

An adult and baby rhino stand in a grassy area
EJN Wraps Up 2023 Biodiversity Story Grants and Travel Scholarships

From African wild dogs to coral reefs, much of our planet’s fauna and flora faces a grave and uncertain future. According to some estimates, three species on our planet go extinct every hour. Our intricate but often overlooked connection to nature means that such losses are synonymous with increased risk of infectious diseases, food and water insecurity, and more.

With scientists warning of the sixth mass extinction, journalists must bring attention to efforts to conserve the biological wealth that undergirds human life, as well as the forces that threaten its survival. In serving as both watchdogs and storytellers, journalists can ensure that the public engage more deeply with complex biodiversity issues.

Since 2020, with funding from Arcadia, EJN has supported journalists around the world to tell impactful stories on biodiversity through webinars, story and media grants, travel scholarships and e-learning courses.

Most recently, we invited journalists around the world to pitch us particularly ambitious stories that use innovative multimedia, collaborative or investigative approaches. The five selected journalists have now published their work:

  • Aleksandra Pogorzelska reported on how Ukraine is prioritizing nature and sustainability despite the ongoing war. It plans to put Russia on trial for ecocide at the International Criminal Court and is centering a green agenda in its reconstruction plans. 
  • In Brazil, Luiz Fernando Toledo investigated how illegal loggers in the Amazon are cutting down Brazilwood trees to make stringed instruments, threatening the species’ survival. 
  • In Iraq, Lyse Mauvais and Solin Muhammed Amin examined how falcon trafficking, driven by beliefs of tradition and culture, and economic hardship fueled by conflict are leading to the decline of this migratory bird in Northeastern Syria. 
  • In Indonesia, Mochammad Asad Asnawi went undercover to produce a two-part story on the illegal shark trade, and investigated how businesses use illegal methods and informal loopholes to avoid regulation. 
  • In Ecuador, Emilia Ines Paz y Miño Mora explored how frequent interactions between people and animals at conservation sites are shaping animal behavior and even creating a dependence on tourists for food.
A small bird with an orange head and brown mottled feathers on its body sits on a woven mat
A sandgrouse used as live bait by falcon hunters in Syria / Credit: Lyse Mauvais for Syria Direct.

Last year, we also awarded five travel grants to journalists, to enable them to attend an international biodiversity conference of their choice:

  • From Kenya, James Kahonge Gitau traveled to the International Congress for Conservation Biology (ICCB) in Rwanda and reported on the role of traditional knowledge systems. 
  • From Brazil, Duda Menegassi attended the ICCB in Rwanda and called attention to the animals and plants on the brink of extinction, some of which only exist in captivity. 
  • From Kenya, Shadrack Kavilu also attended the ICCB in Rwanda and reported on the illegal trade of wild birds, which is causing declines in the wild populations, the spread of infectious diseases, and the establishment of non-native species both within Africa and beyond. 
  • From Malaysia, Yao Hua Law attended the 59th Meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation in India and examined issues on ant-following birds who are vulnerable to forest degradation. 
  • From India, Shamsheer Yousaf attended the EcoSummit 2023 in Gold Coast, Australia and produced a three-part series, first delving into how nature-based solutions such as living shorelines can prevent coastal erosion, then examining current measures to protect declining coral reefs, and finally exploring how invasive fish species may be harvested to make a protein-filled powder that can supplement people's diets, especially in food-scarce areas.

“Biodiversity underpins human wellbeing, and journalists have a critical role in informing the public, policymakers and businesses about its significance and the threats it faces,” said Mike Shanahan, project director. “Through their reporting, journalists can contribute to the preservation and sustainable use of the biodiversity on which we all depend.”

Read stories produced as part of the project here and more about the project here.

Banner Image: A mother and baby black rhino in Lewa Conservancy, Kenya. Black Rhinos are critically endangered due to a long history of hunting and poaching / Credit: David Clode via Unsplash.

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