On September 23, 2006, a helicopter crashed on high mountain ridge close to Kangchenjunga, the world’s third-highest peak. On board were 24 people, returning from a ceremony where the government of Nepal’s handed over management of the Kangchenjunga Conservation Area to local communities—it was a conservation landmark.

That celebration turned into the biggest tragedy in WWF’s history. Eight years ago, WWF lost some of our brightest and best-loved colleagues: Dr. Chandra P. Gurung, Mingma Sherpa, Dr. Harka Gurung, Jennifer Headley, Yeshi Choden Lama, Matthew Preece and Dr. Jill Bowling Schlaepfer. Along with them were high-ranking government officials, representatives of other agencies, journalists and flight crew members.

From the ashes of that tragedy rose a lasting tribute.

Today, Nepal honored the passion and dedication of those conservation heroes by recognizing the same qualities and leadership in a new generation of conservationists in the country.

On National Conservation Day, two organizations and four individuals were recognized for their exemplary contribution to biodiversity conservation in Nepal. Honors included the Abraham Conservation Awards, Matthew Preece & Yeshi Choden Lama Young Conservation Leader Award, and the WWF Media in Conservation Award. Three scholarships were also awarded under the Chandra Gurung, Jennifer Headley and Jill Bowling Schlaepfer Memorial Scholarships.

WWF-Nepal invites nominations for the awards each year and the final awardees are selected by an independent panel of judges from the government, conservation, academic, social and private sectors.

“National Conservation Day is a celebration of a legacy in conservation of Nepal’s late conservation heroes,” said Dr. Ghana S. Gurung, senior conservation program director of WWF Nepal. “With each passing year, we hope to inspire future generations of conservation leaders who will deliver change for Nepal.”

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