Prestigious International Conservation Award Given to Thailand’s Environment Minister

Suwit Khunkitti, Thailand’s Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, has been named the winner of the 2009 J. Paul Getty Award for Conservation Leadership. He is being honored for his efforts to eliminate illegal wildlife trade, save tigers, elephants and sea turtles, and create wildlife corridors and sanctuaries in Thailand. The annual J. Paul Getty Award for Conservation Leadership is one of the world’s most prestigious international conservation awards and includes a $200,000 prize.

Khunkitti’s work also includes a completed national action plan for tiger conservation in Thailand, critical to stopping the decline of tigers – a major conservation focus in 2010, the Year of the Tiger.  Khunkitti also revised Thailand’s elephant law and pushed reforms to require sea turtle excluders on fishing trawlers. Additionally his work has resulted in the creation of habitat corridors by linking national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in Thailand.  His enforcement team was also responsible for the biggest ivory bust in Thailands history. Throughout his career, Khunkitti has both actively engaged civil society and nongovernmental organizations in policy initiatives and supported constitutional reforms.

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