Global Honors for Yale Conservationist
Working to Protect Threatened Species

Yufang Gao ’14 M.E.Sc., a Chinese conservationist who has worked to protect wildlife from Kenya to Tibet, this month received two global awards for his efforts to ensure a future for vulnerable species worldwide.
yufang gao.yale
Photo by Sarah Gordon
Yufang Gao
On May 17, Gao — who will return to Yale this fall to pursue a doctoral degree — was named the winner of the 2016 Marsh Award for Terrestrial Conservation Leadership from the Marsh Christian Trust. The award, which is offered in partnership with Fauna & Flora International, recognizes individuals or organizations that make a significant contribution to sustainable biodiversity at a local level. The award includes a prize of £4,000.
Last week, Gao was also named one of the National Geographic Society’s 2016 Emerging Explorers, an honor that recognizes young scientists, conservationists, artists, and activists who are improving the world through “unconventional thinking and innovations.” The award comes with a $10,000 prize to aid further research and exploration.
While completing his Master’s degree at F&ES, Gao studied how the Chinese market for ivory — and China’s increasing presence in Africa — have impacted the conservation of African elephants, and how different stakeholders within the trade chain view these factors. In recognition of this groundbreaking research, he was awarded a 2013 Andrew Sabin International Environmental Fellowship which, in addition to tuition support, provided $20,000 to Gao to help him return to his home country or region to pursue his conservation work.
For the past two years he was executive director of the Everest Snow Leopard Conservation Center, which is dedicated to protecting snow leopards in the Qomolangma (Mount Everest) National Nature Reserve on the border of China and Nepal. He is also a research affiliate with the Yale Large Carnivore Group, a group of Yale affiliates and partners that aims to strengthen the coexistence between humans and carnivores in all parts of the world.
gao in africa
Image courtesy of Yufang Gao
Yufang Gao in Kenya, where he researched cultural viewpoints on the ongoing slaughter of African elephants.
As an undergraduate at Peking University, Gao spent a full year working on conservation projects for the Wildlife Conservation Society in China. He also spent a year living in a village on the eastern Tibetan Plateau where he helped a group of Tibetan Buddhist monks protect their sacred wildlife and landscapes.  
“I am humbled to have been chosen for these awards knowing that I am in the very early stage of my career as a conservationist and there are many other qualified candidates who are making a significant contribution to wildlife conservation,” Gao said. “Thank you very much for all the people who offer me support and help. I hope to continue working with my colleagues and friends to promote nature conservation and human dignity in China and abroad.”
– Kevin Dennehy    203 436-4842
PUBLISHED: May 18, 2016
Note: Yale School of the Environment (YSE) was formerly known as the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES). News articles posted prior to July 1, 2020, refer to the School's name at that time.