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Nigerian Conservationist Wins £40,000 Award



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A Nigerian conservationist, Iroro Tanshi, has received a Whitley Award worth £40,000 to save the short-tailed roundleaf bat after discovering the country’s first and only known population.

The Whitley Awards are presented annually to individuals from the Global South by UK-based charity, the Whitley Fund for Nature.

According to a statement on Thursday, Tanshi is one of six conservationists to be recognised in 2021 for their commitment to conserving some of the planet’s most endangered species and spectacular natural habitats.

The statement said the short-tailed roundleaf bat had not been seen in the wild for 45 years.

“It was thought to occur only in Cameroon and Bioko until Iroro and the Small Mammal Conservation Organisation discovered a group of just 15 individuals in south-eastern Nigeria in 2016.

With all previously known roosts destroyed or their statuses unknown, this population is the last confirmed long-term site for the species,” it said.

The statement said since establishing the project in 2016, Tanshi had worked with communities and hunters, educating and raising awareness around the importance of bat conservation through training exercises.

“With her Whitley Award, Iroro will now expand her work from Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary and Cross River National Park to the Mbe Mountains, locating new caves and tracking bats to better understand their distribution,” it added.

Tanshi was quoted as saying, “My earliest memories of being interested in nature are from around the age of six when I would watch nature documentaries with my father.

My interest in bats started during a visit to Uganda in 2010 for a Tropical Biology Association field course and, since then, I have been devoted to protecting these cute little creatures.

“The funding will allow us to expand the scale and scope of our intervention efforts to the other four major communities around Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary and Cross River National Park. Receiving a Whitley Award has given me, and my team, hopes of saving this precious creature from extinction and we are very grateful for the support.”

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