IT’S NOT EVERYDAY that Panama’s conservation efforts get international recognition, especially when linked to the lowly sloth.
The Zoological Sociery of London (ZLS) has announced that Dr Diorene Smith Cabellos has been honored with a Conservation Hero Award from the Disney Conservation Fund.
The award is for her work with the elusive pygmy three toed sloth on the Island of Isla Escudo de Veraguas to establish the first and only ongoing research program to monitor the critically endangered species, found only on that single island, in 2012.
With fewer than 100 individuals left on the island, Dr Cabellos’s work is vital to saving this important species threatened by increased human disturbance on the remote island, says a ZLS statement
Dr Cabellos is working with local communities, authorities and NGOs to study and protect the species.
As the population is mainly concentrated in the mangrove habitats of the island, her work requires her to tackle an often inhospitable environment – she’s had to derive some very innovative solutions to technology that malfunctions in the wet, salt-laden environment
“What may be most amazing about Dr Cabellos is that she’s managed to do all of this important conservation work in her spare time while working as a full-time zoo curator and veterinarian,” says the ZLS.
The Disney award recognizes local citizens for their commitment to reversing the decline of wildlife and engaging communities in conservation and winners are awarded $1,500 to contribute towards their conservation work.
Dr Cabellos is part of ZSL’s EDGE Fellowship program which aims to create a new global network of in-country conservationists by awarding two-year fellowships and training programs to future conservation-leaders working on poorly known important species.