The Rufford Foundation is pleased to announce that Sheherazade Jayadi, Co-Executive Director at PROGRES (Sulawesi Regional Ecological Conservation Initiative) and recipient of two Rufford Small Grants (in 2017 and 2020), has been awarded the People’s Choice Award in the first ever Conservation Optimism Southeast Asia Awards https://conservationoptimism.org/winners-announced-of-the-first-ever-conservation-optimism-southeast-asia-awards/.
Rufford funded Shera’s first research on flying fox ecosystem services in Sulawesi, which lay the foundation for her and her collaborators to start a conservation programme for flying foxes that have been hunted intensely for commercial markets. This Rufford-funded research revealed the interaction between flying foxes and durian, beloved fruits in Sulawesi and Indonesia, providing a strong case for protecting flying foxes. A 2nd Rufford Small Grant enabled Shera and her team to use lessons learned from bat conservation to protect other threatened yet overlooked wildlife facing a similar situation as bats.
To win the CO SE Asia Award, Shera had to pass through a shortlisting process, followed by a popular vote. Winning this award means a great deal to Shera and it has demonstrated that anything is possible. “When we started working on bats, we heard a lot of people being sceptical about our initiatives. This award means that our efforts to increase the appreciation toward bats has paid off” explains Shera. “We were astounded by the amount of attention, care, that people poured into the team, and our efforts protecting these so-called, not sexy animals, from bats, and tortoises, to cuscus.”
This year and looking ahead, Shera plans to expand activities to support community-based conservation to protect more colonies of flying foxes as well as other threatened and overlooked species and ecosystems across Sulawesi and beyond. Shera writes, “we hope to empower more local communities, especially to the youth to be the agent of change, reverberating the spirit of optimism to protect our nature.”
Photo: Sheherazade Jayadi (centre) and her team.