Biodiversity is the sum total of life on Earth, a living legacy to future generations. What is more, it is an essential underpinning for all human development since, as living creatures ourselves, we depend on the natural world in countless ways. Sadly, biodiversity is being lost almost everywhere on our planet, especially in tropical forests, the richest of all terrestrial ecosystems.
In this talk, Dr. Russ Mittermeier, the world’s preeminent primate conservationist and the winner of the 2018 Indianapolis Prize – widely viewed as the world’s leading award for animal conservation – discusses why we should be concerned about other life forms with which we share our planet, how we set priorities for conservation action, and where we have succeeded in achieving our objectives. He will, in particular, focus on nonhuman primates, our closest living relatives, 90 percent of which are found in tropical forests, and the strategies employed by him and the IUCN Species Survival Commission Primate Specialist Group over the past 40 years.
In part because of Dr. Mittemeier’s efforts, primates remain the only larger group of mammals to have not lost a single species or subspecies to extinction in the last 100 years. Mittermeier's focus on biodiversity hotspots — critically important areas known for their biological diversity and endemic species — has taken him on expeditions across 169 countries and all seven continents. On that quest, he's discovered more than 20 species new to science (8 of which are named for him!).
About the Indianapolis Prize
The Indianapolis Prize is a significant, internationally recognized conservation initiative of the Indianapolis Zoological Society, Inc., supporting scientists across the world who are successfully preserving wild things and wild places for future generations. Dr. Mittermeier will receive a $250,000 unrestricted cash award and the Lilly Medal.