International accolade for UEA academic who saved birds from extinction - including the pink pigeon
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A man who has helped rescue at least nine species of exotic bird from the brink of exinction has today won a $250,000 prize.
Professor Carl Jones MBE, who is an honorary reader in ecology and conservation biology at UEA, was selected by a distinguished judging panel for this year's Indianapolis Prize, which is the world's leading award for animal conservation.
The award recognises his efforts in Mauritius over almost 40 years, bringing back species including the Mauritius kestrel, pink pigeon, echo parakeet, Rodrigues warbler and Rodrigues fody.
As the winner, Jones will receive an unrestricted $250,000 cash award and the Lilly Medal.
Prof Jones is chief scientist of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and scientific director of the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation.
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He has worked to restore the populations of many more species, working closely with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
'I know of no other conservationist who has directly saved so many species from extinction,' said Dr Simon Stuart, chairman of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, who nominated Jones for the award.
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Prof Jones is credited with championing the idea of 'ecological replacement,' a conservation tactic in which species outside of their historic range act as substitutes to fulfil important ecological roles once held by extinct species.
His projects include Aldabra tortoises, first brought to the island of Mauritius at the request of Charles Darwin in the late 1800s.
And Prof Jones, who was mentored by the iconic British animal conservationist Gerald Durrell, said he was honoured to receive the recognition.
'Winning the 2016 Indianapolis Prize is undoubtedly one of the highlights of my career,' he said.
'It's a great accolade not just for me, but for Gerry Durrell and the people who have made this work possible over the years.
'I'm particularly proud of this award because it validates the conservation of animals — like Telfair's skinks and pink pigeons — that are not megavertebrates [a very big vertebrate, such as a rhino], but provide critically important ecosystem services nonetheless.'