Celebrating Service to Conservation

October 21, 2009

Diego and Valentina

Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund Names 2009 Heroes

See video of Diego accepting this award at Wild 9, the 9th World Wilderness Congress held in Merida, Mexico, in November 2009 here.

The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) has announced the recipients of the “Disney Conservation Heroes” award for 2009. The award program recognizes heroes who have made a positive impact on the environment and their communities. Eight award recipients from around the globe were nominated by non-profit environmental organizations for their tireless efforts to save wildlife, protect habitats, and educate communities.

“Disney recognizes that these heroes are role models who hold the keys to successful conservation initiatives in areas of critical concern,” said Dr. Beth Stevens, Senior Vice President for Disney’s Environmental Affairs. “Conservation efforts around the globe and in our own backyard rely substantially on support from the local community and direct involvement of people like our Disney Conservation Heroes.”

Each award recipient and their nominating organization will share a $1,000 award from the DWCF. This year’s recipients include Diego Ezrré Romero, nominated by the Northern Jaguar Project.

Diego Ezrré Romero is a local rancher and a force for positive change in the Sahuaripa community in Sonora, Mexico. In addition to his role as the town’s dentist, he sets out to improve the standards for better education and to build a deeper respect for jaguar and nature conservation among his neighbors and fellow ranchers. With his property directly adjacent to the 45,000-acre Northern Jaguar Reserve, Diego shows unlimited hospitality by offering his home as a meeting place for local conservation organizations. He has raised his voice against nearby mining operations and those who hunt or poison carnivores. With Diego’s help, the Feline Photo Project, a local fundraising and conservation initiative, has become NJP’s best opportunity to establish a higher level of local tolerance for jaguars. Such tolerance is imperative to the jaguar population as its endangered status is largely due to the ranchers who kill them for preying on their livestock. Aside from working to protect jaguars, Diego works to create innovative concepts to provide new sources of income for ranch owners. He supports ecotourism as an alternative income and intends to develop an eco-tour site on his family ranch, which will also provide local community members with jobs. The Northern Jaguar Project says, “Diego is an individual who deeply understands the value that jaguars have as a keystone, umbrella species. He knows that a healthy jaguar population means that he, as a cattle rancher, is acting as a good steward to the land around him.”

In the last five years, DWCF has honored 42 Conservation Heroes for their extraordinary conservation efforts around the world. To learn more visit www.disney.com/conservation.

The Walt Disney Company has a longstanding commitment to conservation, dating back to Walt himself. Today, that legacy is carried forward through initiatives, like the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, that positively impact the planet and inspire a conservational spirit in others.

The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund is an annual awards program focused on the study and protection of the world’s wildlife and ecosystems, involving communities and addressing human needs. The DWCF has taken Walt Disney’s legacy across the globe with more than $14 million in grants to more than 800 conservation programs in 110 countries. The DWCF is funded by Disney and donations from Guests of Walt Disney World Resort (including Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park), Disney Vacation Club, and Disney Cruise Line.