- African Mountains
Dr Ian Little from the South African Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), seen below receiving his Whitley award from HRM Princess Ann, was one of the prestigious winners this year for his determined efforts to protect grasslands in South Africa. Ian is one of six individuals to have been awarded a share of the prize money worth £210,000, winning the Whitley Award donated by the Garfield Weston Foundation.
Grasslands are the most endangered vegetation type in South Africa because this is where most of the agriculture, mining and urban development has taken place. Over the next five years, Dr Little wants to establish a large grassland and forest escarpment protected area to help protect what remaining wild areas still exist in the region. Demand for fresh water is expected to outstrip supply in South Africa by 2025 and the Eastern Great Escarpment of South Africa provides catchment services for three of the country’s largest rivers, making it a vital source of water for cities in one of the world’s most arid nations.
Dr Ian Little of the Endangered Wildlife Trust works with farmers and tribal leaders, to build capacity for sustainable farming, and introducing improved management practices, such as less intensive grazing and burning regimes, to decrease pressure on grasslands and boost productivity. He has already secured 60,000 hectares of grassland for conservation purposes; a figure Dr Little plans to increase with his Whitley Award by creating a corridor of legally protected areas linking with others along the escarpment. In doing so he will safeguard these grasslands and the important source of freshwater they provide.