Media Release, 12 September 2008: for immediate release

2008 Whitley Awards

The Royal Zoological Society of NSW today announced the winners of the 2008 Whitley Awards.

The awards are for outstanding publications that deal with the promotion and conservation of Australasian fauna. Of the awards, the Whitley Medal is the most sought after prize in Australian zoological publishing.

The Whitley Awards, first presented in 1979, are hosted by the Royal Zoological Society of NSW and presented at a ceremony at The Australian Museum in Sydney. They are a tribute to Gilbert Whitley (1903-1975), who was the Curator of Fishes at the Australian Museum from 1922 to 1964. For many years Whitley was also the editor of the Society's publications and a very active member.

This year's Whitley Medal winner is A Fragile Balance, the extraordinary story of Australian marsupials by Professor Christopher Dickman and published by Craftsman House and produced by Mallon Publishing. Chris Dickman is Professor of Ecology in the School of Biological Sciences and Director of the Institute of Wildlife Research, both at the University of Sydney.

Distinguished science journalist and writer, James Woodford in his Sydney Morning Herald review, stated, ‘…it could easily have been a dry and leaden work but instead is alive with page-turning narrative and enough fascinating detail to satisfy his colleagues and the reading public.

A Fragile Balance tries to be many things and succeeds in them all. Most superficially, it is elegant and spectacular, and would look good adorning any coffee table. It is also a guidebook of sorts with a section that gives a short account of Australia's marsupials. It tells the story of the evolution of marsupials, the text leavened with the author's accounts of his adventures while studying this massively diverse group of animals.’

The book is beautifully illustrated by award-winning Rosemary Woodford Ganf who manages to not only capture the images of the marsupials, but demonstrates her knowledge and understanding of these animals. Her illustrations are not only anatomically correct, but they are aesthetically pleasing and set perfectly in the natural environment.

The Awards also include Certificates of Commendation and this year these were awarded to 11 publications. Commended were:

Historical Zoology
Glimpses of Paradise, The Quest for the Beautiful Parrakeet by Penny Olsen, published by the National Library of Australia
Children's Book
The Shark Book: Fish with Attitude by Mark Norman, published by Black Dog Books
Young Naturalist
Bugs Alive, A Guide to keeping Australian Invertebrates by A Henderson, D Henderson and J Sinclair, published by Museum Victoria
Zoological Reference
The Mammals of Australia, editors Steve Van Dyck and Ronald Strahan, published by New Holland
Systematic Zoology
Australian Ladybird Beetles (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae), Their Biology and Classification by Adam Slipinski, published by ABRS, Canberra
Zoological Illustration
Growing Up with Australian Birds by Raoul Slater, Steve Parish Publishing
Wingspan, editors Penny Olsen and Sophie Knezic, published by Birds Australia
Field Natural History
Bowerbirds: Nature, Art, History by Clifford Frith and Dawn Frith, published by Frith and Frith
Natural History
Bettongs, Potoroos and the Musky Rat-Kangaroo by A Claridge, J Seebeck and R Rose,
CSIRO Publishing
Zoological Manual
Otoliths of Common Australian Temperate Fish, a Photographic Guide by D Furlani, R Gales
and D Pemberton, CSIRO Publishing
Field Guide
Shorebirds of Australia by A Geering, L Agnew and S Harding, CSIRO Publishing
For more information contact
Dr Noel Tait, Chairman, Whitley Awards Committee, RZS NSW;
phone/fax: 612 9427 6747; email:

Robyn Stutchbury
1 Carisbrook Street
Lane Cove NSW 2066
Ph/Fax: 612 9427 6747
Mb: 0419 4119 67