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text bulletThe Dawkins Prize for Animal Conservation and Welfare

The Dawkins Prize was endowed by a generous donation from the family of Professor Richard Dawkins FRS, Oxford University’s Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science.  The Prize is for outstanding research into the ecology and behaviour of animals whose welfare and survival may be endangered by human activities. 

The first Prize-winner (2001) was Dr Iain Douglas-Hamilton, and the second Prize-winner (2004) was Professor David Macdonald.

Dr. Roger Payne

Dr. Roger Payne
Photo: Iain Kerr

The College, advised by a distinguished Committee, has awarded the third Dawkins Prize to Dr Roger Payne, Founder and President of Ocean Alliance, who is best known for his discovery (with Scott McVay) that humpback whales sing song, and that the sounds of fin and blue whales can be heard across oceans.  He will give his Lecture “Trying to Conserve Whales: Winning Battles but Losing the War” in the Oxford University Museum of Natural History at 5pm on Friday 2nd November 2007.  The lecture will be followed by a Reception in the Museum. Everyone Welcome.

Dr Payne writes: “Ocean Alliance has recently completed a worldwide collection of biopsy samples from 928 sperm whales during a five-year voyage around the world. We are now measuring pollutant levels in these samples for Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), brominated fire retardants and heavy metals. This should provide the first overall assessment of how polluted the oceans are. The preliminary results are entirely shocking. Humanity seems poised to lose access to fish from the sea: they are too polluted to be consumed safely.”

The Committee comprised Professor Richard Dawkins FRS, Professor Dan Rubenstein, Professor Paul Harvey FRS, Professor David Macdonald and Dr Beth Shapiro, convened and chaired by the Vice-Master, Dr John Jones.

John Jones
Updated 11.ix.07
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