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Apr 27, 2005

Manatee researcher wins U.K. award

Story PictureBelizean scientist Nicole Auil has been honoured for her tireless work with manatees. That’s the word from Great Britain where in official ceremonies at the Royal Geographical Society in London, Auil and seven other conservationists from around the world were recognised last week for their work to protect the planet’s natural resources. Auil’s honour is called the Whitley Award for Rivers and Wetlands, acknowledging her efforts in research and conservation of the habitat and biology of the Antillean manatee. Manatees are considered a threatened species in Belize, with approximately one thousand of these mammals calling our seas, rivers, and lagoons home. Recent studies by Auil reveal that an increasing number of manatee deaths in Belize are caused by boat traffic, a threat that figures to grow along with Belize’s booming tourism industry. Auil is part of a national attempt to protect the manatees, campaigning for speed restrictions and educational programmes to reduce the rate of mortality. As part of her award, Auil received thirty thousand pounds or approximately ninety thousand Belize dollars. She holds a Master of Science degree from Texas A and M University and is currently working as the country representative of a U.S. based organization, Wildlife Trust.

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