Without Carl Jones, the natural world would be a much poorer place. Many animal and plant species would have gone extinct and far fewer people would have been inspired to take up the conservation cause. Carl is Durrell’s Chief Scientist and Scientific Director of the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation and we are delighted to that he is the winner of the prestigious Indianapolis Prize 2016, the ‘Oscars’ of the conservation world.
We think Carl and his story are inspirational and we want to share this with you: the conservation approaches he is pioneering, the globally important conservation results, and why we believe he is a hero worthy of this award.
Watch Carl's powerful ceremony acceptance speech
Through 40 years of devoted and pioneering work in Mauritius in partnership with the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, Carl developed and led the programmes enabling some of the most striking animal population recoveries in the world. The unique Mauritius kestrel, pink pigeon, echo parakeet, Rodrigues warbler and Rodrigues fody have all been brought back from the brink of extinction.
These programmes, often using hands-on animal husbandry techniques developed in the zoo world, have delivered results that are truly world-leading: of the 63 bird, mammal and amphibian species worldwide that have been down-listed on the IUCN Red List thanks to conservation, Carl led the programmes for six of them.
The echo parakeet has recovered from 10 birds in 1980 to over 600 today.
The Rodrigues fruit bat has recovered from around 100 to over 10,000 individuals; this is one of the most successful bat conservation programmes in the world.
From an estimated 5-6 pairs in the late 1960s, the Rodrigues fody now numbers 8,000 individuals.
A pioneer in his field, Carl recognised the need to restore whole ecosystems, not just focus on single species and he advised the National Parks and Conservation Service on the establishment of the first and only national park in Mauritius in 1994 at Black River Gorges. In addition, as a direct result of Carl’s vision, work to restore nine highly degraded Mascarene off-shore islands is underway. The jewel in the crown of this programme is Round Island, one of the world’s most important and long-standing island restoration projects.
These island restoration projects have helped save three reptile species that were also on the brink of extinction – the Round Island boa, Günther’s gecko and the orange-tailed skink. Four other species - Telfair’s skink, Ilot Vacoas Bojer’s skink, lesser night gecko and Durrell’s night gecko – are also now all in a safer position with healthier numbers. This vital reptile work in Mauritius is now led by Durrell’s Dr Nik Cole.
Carl spearheaded the once controversial idea of ‘ecological replacement’ of species outside their historic range to fill vital but extinct ecological functions. The Aldabra giant tortoise, endemic to the Seychelles, has been introduced to Ile aux Aigrettes and Round Island, where it carries out important roles that have been lost as a result of the extinction of the Mauritian giant tortoise, such as spreading seeds in their droppings.
As a charismatic and inspirational leader, Carl strengthened his programme team in Mauritius during the 1980s, which grew into a conservation organisation in its own right, the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation (MWF), of which he is Scientific Director. Today, MWF is one of the region’s foremost conservation NGOs and one of Durrell’s key partners.
Carl was also instrumental in the establishment of the Gerald Durrell Endemic Wildlife Sanctuary, an in-country captive breeding facility, now managed by the National Parks and Conservation Service (Government of Mauritius) in partnership with MWF.
Training and inspiring young Mauritians to build on his legacy is at the heart of Carl’s work. In 2013, a Campus of the Durrell Conservation Academy was established in Mauritius to deliver accredited training courses and build conservation capacity in the Indian Ocean, utilising Carl’s achievements and the projects in Mauritius as a model for what can be achieved elsewhere.
Meet Carl through our selection of videos and photos.
Through dedicated long-term conservation efforts, Durrell and its local partners, not least MWF, have significantly increased the chances of survival for our target species by 67% - the proof is here. Please help continue the vital work of Carl Jones in Mauritius.
Photos by Vikash Tatayah and Durrell Team