60 thousand pounds were also given to KuzeyDoğa Society to use for project activities in the following two years. This project was chosen among 11 finalist projects from different parts of the world. More than 100 projects from six continents had applied for this award and only 11 of them became finalists. This was the first time a project from Turkey even made it to the finals. The awardees received their awards from the guest of honour of the award ceremony, Her Royal Highness Princess Anne and the president of the Whitley Foundation, Mr. Edward Whitley. The award ceremony took place in the Royal Geographic Society Hall of London and Dr. Cagan Sekercioglu received his award from Princess Anne, the daughter of Queen Elizabeth II. The spokesperson of the ceremony was the famous BBC documentary maker Sir David Attenborough and more than 350 VIP guests attended this ceremony.
Dr. Cagan Sekercioglu stated that he is very happy and be honoured to receive the top award of the Whitley Foundation which was established on the 15th birthday of Edward Whitley’s daughter Ella in order to support nature conservation projects througout the world.
Sekercioglu spoke to Princess Anne during the reception following the award ceremony and presented her the local cheddar cheese produced in Kars. Princess Anne said that she would taste this cheese and thanked Sekercioglu for it. Sekercioglu also gave her the 2008 calendar of Birds of Kuyucuk and the poster of the Birds of Iğdır produced by KuzeyDoğa Society.
The other award winners were from Bangladesh, Borneo, Brazil, China, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Chile and Peru. A total of 350.000 pounds were given to award winning projects and Edward Whitley spoke that the aim of the Whitley Foundation is to find out and support people who work for sustainable natural resourse management and nature conservation, and to take responsibility protecting the environment along with people. He also mentioned that Sekercioglu, who studied at Harvard and Stanford Universities, refused a financial career at Wall Street and made a difference to nature conservation.
Sekercioglu said, “KuzeyDoğa Society, of which I am the president, carries out a wide range of conservation and research projects from conducting wolf and bear surveys in Sarikamis Forests of Kars to bird ringing studies at Lake Kuyucuk and Aras valley.”
Sir David Attenborough, who is the most famous BBC documentary maker of the last 50 years, narrated a short movie about KuzeyDoğa’s conservation work which was filmed during our field research, compiled by the BBC, and shown at the award ceremony.
Sekercioglu stated that KuzeyDoğa Society is thankful for the support and contributions of the KuzeyDoğa team, Kars governship, Kars Municipality, Kars directorates of Environment & Forestry and Education, local municipalities, Arpaçay and Akyaka district governship, Kafkas University, Kuyucuk village and other individuals and organizations who took part in their work. He mentioned the valuable support of Kars governor Mehmet Ufuk Erden, Profesor Dr. Ali Demirsoy and Professor Dr. Gerardo Ceballos who wrote the reference letters supporting Dr. Cagan Sekercioglu’s application for the Whitley awards.