A noted conservationist from Suffolk has been recognised for his work with wildlife, by being presented with the 2014 Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Award by the Duke himself.
Gathorne Gathorne-Hardy, Fifth Earl of Cranbrook was presented with the conservation medal at a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace on Monday by Prince Philip, on behalf of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
The award is WWF’s premier award, and its purpose is to annually recognise exemplary contributions to both the conservation of wildlife and natural resources.
Lord Cranbrook has dedicated his time as a biologist to protecting the natural environment for over 50 years, and is a notable figure in the fields of mammalogy, ornithology and zooarchaeology.
He said: “To receive the accolade of WWF’s Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Award is a great distinction.
“I accept it proudly, not for myself, but for the many people whom I have worked with in the challenging field of wildlife conservation.”
Lord Cranbrook’s career began with research on a species of bird, the cave swiftlet, before going on to contribute to over a dozen books specialising in wildlife.
The medal he received was presented in a sustainably sourced rosewood box, donated from the Chamber of Mines of South Africa.
When the medal was first awarded in 1970 to Professor Bernhard Grzimek, Sir Julien Huxley and Dr Jacques Verschuren, it was called the WWF Gold Medal, but on Prince Philip’s retirement as WWF’s International’s president in 1996, it was renamed as a tribute to him.
Lord Cranbrook added: “The patronage of The Duke of Edinburgh has been inspiring, and the annual presentation of this award gives encouragement to all of us who strive for a future where environmental conservation will be truly recognised as an imperative for all inhabitants of this world.”
The WWF Selection Committee assessed the candidates in terms of contribution to conservation, scientific credentials, enhancement of WWF’s international image and the ability to influence further conservation achievements.
WWF UK Chief Executive, David Nussbaum, said: “In everything he has contributed to conservation, Gathorne’s passion for field work and his enthusiasm to share, teach and encourage, has shone through.
“His appreciation of the wonder and value of nature, coupled with an unwavering scientific rigour when communicating with politicians, peers and students alike, has provided us with a conservationist truly worthy of this award.”
As well as receiving the medal, Lord Cranbrook was also gifted with a Rolex watch and a certificate signed by the Duke of Edinburgh and the Director General of WWF.