Geraldine is a passionate naturalist and wildlife scientist from Switzerland. Her passion led her to the ancient Himalayan wolves. Walking 1800 kilometres in the isolated mountain areas of Nepal and China, at 3000 to 5500 meter altitude, Geraldine and her team of the Himalayan Wolves Project researched the ecology and genetics of this wolf. They discovered that this species is completely adapted to cope with the harsh conditions at high-altitudes where low oxygen availability (50% less than at sea level) challenges all life forms. Despite its unique evolutionary story, the Himalayan wolf is not popular. They are mainly seen as livestock thieves. Therefore, Geraldine is working with local communities to develop conflict mitigation strategies considerate of the traditional culture to safeguard this unique wolf.
Geraldine Werhahn grew up in Switzerland, where she spent her days exploring nature, making observations and taking notes. It was always clear to Geraldine that she would dedicate her life to nature. She grew into a passionate naturalist and wildlife scientist, a journey that lead her to work in the Himalayas and develop the Himalayan Wolves Project. Thanks to her team’s work the mysteries around the unique ancient Himalayan wolf are revealed, the Wild Yak has been rediscovered in Nepal, and the distribution of a myriad of other species have been updated.
Vision and Approach
The Himalayan wolf is a species that is found in the high altitudes of the Himalayas and on the Tibetan Plateau. The species presents an evolutionary unique wolf lineage, specifically adapted to cope with the harsh conditions at high-altitudes where low oxygen availability challenges all life forms. Her research is now informing the formal taxonomic classification and conservation of the Himalayan wolf. It all started in 2014, when Geraldine founded the Himalayan Wolves Project focussing on wolf phylogeny, trophic ecology and human-wolf conflict to inform and develop conservation efforts. Understanding the wolf’s ecology, especially its habitat and prey requirements, is essential to frame conservation action. These findings are combined with working with local communities to develop conflict mitigation strategies considerate of the traditional culture and ecosystems in these last wilderness habitats of our planet.
Impact of the Future For Nature Award
- The Future For Nature Award has helped to understand the human perspective of human wolf coexistence in the Nepalese high-altitude habitats.
- The Future For Nature Award has also made it possible to do in-depth analysis of the dietary requirements of the https://youtu.be/odzELeePSlYHimalayan wolf, which presents the first scientific data on this wolf’s dietary needs, and is of crucial relevance for its conservation.
- With the Future For Nature Award these insights are now being used to work, develop and implement wildlife conservation programs suitable for the entire Himalayan range.
"Geraldine’s courage and tenacity to work among remote rural pastoral communities on a patently unpopular predator in one of the world’s most inhospitable environments is admirable."Mr. Brian J. Huntley, International Selection Committee