International award for exposé

FORMER Perth journalist Cortlan Bennett has won a major international award at a lavish ceremony in the Beverley Hills Hotel in California.

Mr Bennett received the Ark Trust’s Genesis 2001 award, with photographer Paul Hilton, for a story exposing cruelty to bears in the People’s Republic of China.

The story, which appeared in Asian Geographic, exposed the suffering of black bears held in captivity in China for their bile.

A key campaigner to free the bears is former movie star Brigitte Bardot, who has an Ark Trust award named after her.

Ms Bardot has campaigned relentlessly since the 1970s against cruelty to animals and played a leading role in moves against the killing of baby seals in Canada in the 1980s.

Mr Bennett’s commendation from the judges said the story increased the public awareness of animal issues. However, his story almost came at a cost to Mr Bennett.

He and Hilton narrowly escaped serious injury shortly before the awards when a stolen car, being pursued by police, slammed into two elderly pedestrians walking in front of them at a pedestrian crossing in Beverley Hills.

Mr Bennett, who worked for a number of WA newspapers, including the Sunday Times and Community Newspapers, operates a media company out of Hong Kong, where he has worked for numerous media outlets.

He has also won a Hong Kong Newspaper Society’s best press article award, for a story about a Hong Kong drug baron.

Mr Bennett, who speaks fluent Cantonese, is currently in Seoul, South Korea, to cover the World Soccer Cup for Asian and European newspapers.

He is the son of former Sunday Times news editor and long-time columnist, Rob Bennett.

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