Animal movement expert Rory Wilson named as one of BBC's Top 50 Conservation Heroes

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Professor Rory Wilson, a world-leading expert in animal movement, has been named as one of Britain 50 most influential conservation heroes by BBC Wildlife Magazine, alongside other eminent figures such as broadcasters Sir David Attenborough and Chris Packham and primate scientist Jane Goodall.

‌The 50 conservation heroes are the people who the BBC's panel of experts believe will have the biggest impact on wildlife in the next decade. 

The list is announced in the May issue of BBC Wildlife, the UK’s best-selling natural history magazine

Rory Wilson, professor of zoology at Swansea University, has studied all kinds of animals in different habitats, from penguins and albatrosses to whales and cheetahs, and says that what he finds most fascinating is that animals move in ways that can’t easily be predicted. 

Working with colleagues from computer science and engineering, he has pioneered the use of non-invasive electronic tags, which allow the team to track animal movement but with no negative effects on the animal.  

The tags represent a big leap forward because they allow researchers to track the full set of movements and see patterns.  It means they can go beyond just describing what the animal is doing, and actually predict what it’s going to do next. 

Picture: Professor Rory Wilson helps to tag a whale shark

Professor Wilson also served as an adviser to National Geographic for its critically-acclaimed Great Migrations series.

Professor Rory Wilson said:

"I am thrilled to be in the 'Wildlife Power List' but it is as much a tribute to 'the team' as to me. Without brilliant physicists, computer scientists and off-the-wall biologists, I'd be dreaming more than doing.

Working within discipline interstices enables us to bring smart technology to wild animals to understand them as never before. I'd like to think that creatures with conservation issues might one day thank us for that!"

Hundreds of nominations came from a range of wildlife experts connected to the magazine. The emphasis was on each person’s potential to make a difference in the coming years, both in terms of practical conservation and the way we all see the natural world.

•         The two youngest people on the Power List are just 13 years old
•         It features a street artist who paints endangered species on urban walls
•         A sound recordist who specializes in wildlife makes the top 50
•         Two farmers are on the list – one for their work conserving red kites
•         Scientists, writers, politicians, illustrators, royalty and rock stars all feature

Watch Professor Rory Wilson describe his research on animal movement in this British Council short film

BBC Wildlife Magazine editor Matt Swaine says:

“These are the people who we believe will shape the way we see the natural world in the coming years and who have the greatest potential to deliver a positive outcome for wildlife both in the UK and abroad. ”
The list includes renowned broadcasters and celebrities as well as often unheralded scientists and conservationists whose vital work ranges from Sumatran orangutans to eagles in Scotland, from those campaigning for reintroduction of lynx in the UK to more protection for our oceans; and from the protection of rhinos to those speaking out for insects and invertebrates in the UK.

BBC Wildlife Magazine is the UK’s best-selling natural history magazine and has been running for over 50 years. It launched the world-famous Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition in 1965 and it is known for its coverage of conservation issues and species around the world.

Study Biosciences at Swansea University