Natia Javakhishvili 2020
Natia is a young conservationist who has achieved stunning success since beginning her conservation career, with her main motivation being saving the Imperial Eagle which is a threatened species and she has also inspired others to take up the cause. Natia’s first experience with conservation was in 2014 when she began volunteering with the Society for Nature Conservation (SABUKO), a BirdLife partner in Georgia. She was promoted to Chief Specialist of Environmental Education, where the Imperial Eagle became her priority. In 2015, she was awarded with a ‘Future Conservationist award’ by the Conservation Leadership Programme allowing her to lead a project focused on conserving this species. She used satellite telemetry and GPS loggers to track the life cycles of juveniles, finding that poaching, nest destruction and pylon electrocution were the major threats needing to be addressed. Natia found that the major breeding habitat of the Imperial Eagle had become degraded and her team developed a new proposal in 2017 which won a landscape restoration grant under the Endangered Landscapes Programme, allowing her team to scale up their work to help other important species in the area.
In recognition of her success, Natia became the CEO of SABUKO in 2017 allowing her to become credited with leading SABUKO to become financially sustainable and growing the organisation from a few individuals to 15 staff members and attracting donors to help sustain conservation in Georgia. SABUKO currently operates alongside 4 government departments and is responsible for building the first volunteer network for nature protection in Georgia. Natia was also elected to the head of the department of Education at the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Nature Resources of Georgia. Moving forward she aims to bring greater media attention to conservation in Georgia and neighbouring countries, while working with national governments to develop a species action plan and build strong biodiversity laws.