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29 Nov 2017

Global award for WWT “human swan”

Posted in Latest news

WWT conservationist and “human swan” Sacha Dench has won a global award for her record-breaking paramotor expedition from Russia to the UK.

Sacha flew the Bewick’s swans’ 7,000km migration route to experience the dangers this declining species faces and to find people along the way who can help. In doing so, Sacha became the first solo-woman to fly such a distance and to cross the English Channel using a paramotor.

Sacha has now been invested as a Laureate of the “Fervent Global Love of Lives Award” in Taipei, in Taiwan. The award, given by the Chou Ta-kuan Foundation, recognises people globally who have overcome great personal adversity, helped others or helped the planet.

While in Taiwan to collect the award, Sacha met the country’s President, Education Minister and former President. She spoke to each about how the challenges faced by Bewick’s swans are also faced by other migratory species passing through Taiwan – including the spoon-billed sandpiper which WWT specialist breeders in Asia are releasing into the wild.

Sacha toured the country alongside other Laureates to meet local dignitaries. She also gave talks to thousands of schoolchildren to inspire them to do something amazing with their own lives.

Sacha said:

“I’m humbled to have won this award among some really amazing people from around the world who’ve done great things. It really brings home how precious life is for both humans and animals.

“It’s been a fantastic and sometimes surreal experience. Flying from Russia to the UK was strange enough but I never imagined I’d then be talking about it with thousands of children in Taiwan! Everyone there was so friendly and welcoming.

“Just like in the UK, the Taiwanese love their wildlife but are increasingly disconnected from it through urbanisation. It’s been a wonderful opportunity to show them how WWT as a British charity is helping to protect their declining bird species through conservation breeding and wetland creation in the Asia Pacific region.”

Watch the video above to see more of Sacha’s adventure in Taiwan – and how unexpected this award was for WWT!



Sacha meets President of Republic of China in Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen


Taking in the wetlands of Taiwan’s Sun Moon Lake


Addressing the pre-award press conference


Another sports hall, another audience for Sacha’s talk


Sacha in “full flight” telling Taiwan about the value of their wetlands


Just one of a hundred or more selfie requests from schoolchildren


The official winners’ photo (Sacha sixth from right)


And finally…Taiwanese food is absolutely fantastic. If you need someone to try everything you don’t recognise first, then invite along an explorer!