National Wildlife Day was founded in 2005 to bring awareness to the need to protect animals in the wild, especially those that are in danger. It also commemorates the anniversary of the death of “The Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin.
The holiday also highlights the people and organizations who are working to save the animal kingdom and educate the public of the need for environmental stewardship around the world.
Protecting wildlife is a cornerstone of the work of many WINGS Fellows. To mark the day, we are recognizing five of these Women of Discovery:
Elizabeth Bennett, who received our 2006 Courage Award, is a wildlife biologist and the vice president of Species Conservation at the Wildlife Conservation Society. She has long been vocal about the threat that over-hunting and wildlife trade pose to wildlife. Her research concerns what drives unsustainable wildlife trade and how to address it.
Carol Amore, who has worked as a leadership consultant and filmmaker, was among our first Fellows and won the Film and Exploration Award in 2003. She has designed interactive museum exhibits on tigers and created a film about a Bengal tiger and her cubs. She is also the author of the Independent Publisher Book Award-winning 20 Ways To Track a Tiger, a collection of her photos from the wild.
Katy Payne is a researcher in the Bioacoustics Research Program at Cornell University’s Laboratory of Ornithology. She got her start with a bachelor’s degree in music. She studied the songs of the humpback whale until 1984 when she and two colleagues discovered infrasonic calling in elephants. She then founded the Elephant Listening Project at Cornell. Payne received our 2004 Earth Award.
Leela Hazzah has dedicated her life to protecting lions. She founded Lion Guardians, which develops solutions to allow humans and lions to co-exist in Kenya and Tanzania and trains East Africans to protect the lions in the wild. Leela was named one of CNN’s Top Ten Heroes of 2004, and she received our 2009 Field Research Award.
Aparajita Datta is a Senior Scientist at the Nature Conservation Foundation in India. Her list of accomplishments is lengthy: She has focused more than two decades on hornbill conservation, discovered two species of deer and a new species of monkey, was appointed to the National Tiger Conservation Authority, and is one of National Geographic’s Emerging Explorers. She was the recipient of the 2009 WINGS Humanity Award.