Meet the 2017 Nature's Heroes

IBA=Important Bird and Biodiversity Area—sites selected by experts using international criteria to identify the most special places on Earth for nature.

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Abama Kamara has made an important contribution to the conservation of the Lofa Gola Mano Complex IBA, raising awareness on environmental issues and helping to create sustainable livelihoods in communities around the IBA
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Charles Boakai is president of Gola Conservation Monitors in Liberia, is helping conserve the Gola Malimbe, and changing local diets from bushmeat to farmed fish
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Aventinus Sadip is the founder of a plant nursery and a farmer's group restoring forest around the Mbeliling IBA, Flores, Indonesia
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The Dakatcha Woodland Conservation Group protects a unique coastal forest IBA in Kenya, promoting community cohesion and sustainable livelihoods, and fighting off international business proposals to convert the site for biofuels

Dhan Bahadur Chaudhary established and runs the community-managed Jatayu “vulture restaurant”, the first of ten safe feeding areas in Nepal which have seen numbers of Critically Endangered vulture species begin to recover
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Dasho Benji is known as the godfather of conservation in Bhutan. His awareness work has inspired many citizen-based initiatives for the benefit of nature in Bhutan
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Nepal's Dumrithumka Adarsh Mahila Community Forest User Group (DCFUG) is repairing a landslide-prone landscape, restoring ecosystem services, introducing livelihoods which do not damage the forest, and leading other CFUGs by example
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Fringilla Farm, Lemba Farm and Chartonel Estates are helping establish areas where vultures can feed, roost and breed in safety

Felicity Strange champions the Verlorenvlei Estuary IBA, South Africa, engaging farmers and local government in conservation management, and leading clean-up parties of young people
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At Sesok IBA, Flores, Indonesia, tour guide Hendrikus Habur has brought prosperity to his village, and bravely opposed activities which would harm the IBA
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In Zimbabwe, Markdale Site Support Group undertakes community management of the unprotected Driefontein Grasslands, an IBA in Danger which is home to threatened Wattled Cranes and Grey Crowned-cranes
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Leylya Belyalova co-founded Uzbekistan's Student Birdwatching Clubs Network, and her educational activities have led to more than 50 trained young conservationists getting placements in government bodies
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The Masangoni Birdlife Group is actively involved in raising awareness on the importance of birds and other biodiversity in the Chimanimani Mountains. The group also assist with site monitoring for this Key Biodiversity Area since 2013
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Mikalaу Vаrabeу, formerly a biologist managing the Vygonoshchanskoye Republican Landscape Reserve, was shot in the legs there by a poacher. Since the injury, he has developed his skills as a photographer and communicates his enthusiasm for nature and conservation to children and adults
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The Meembe Site Support and Farmers Group have cleared invasive kariba weed from the Lukanga Swamps IBA, opening up breeding and feeding areas for birds and fish, and improving the livelihoods of fishermen and other sustainable resource users
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MIn the spring of 2017, Mikhail Ermolich, who works for the State Inspectorate, arrested Italian hunters in the Pripyat river floodplain IBA and his actions ended spring poaching in the territories under his inspection
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Rolando Hipo promotes conservation and sustainable agricultural around the Mindo IBA, Ecuador, winning the support of his community, and local and national government
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Peter Magosvongwe is a bird guide whose voluntary work in Zimbabwe's Bvumba Highlands IBA and the schools around it has mobilised children and the wider community to support the conservation of the forest and its birds
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Colony Guardians keep breeding Saffron-cowled Blackbirds in Argentina safe from predators, nest parasites and poachers
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Vladimir Ivanovski has pioneered raptor protection in Belarus with techniques such as the provision of nesting platforms for rare raptors, and nestboxes for owls, in places where few natural nesting sites exist
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The Groupe des sauveteurs des oiseaux marins rescue petrels disorientated and grounded by streetlights in Papeete, Tahiti
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The Yala Ecosystem Site Support Group has reduced threats to Kenya's Yala Swamp IBA, restored degraded areas, and reached more than 10,000 adults and children with powerful conservation messages