Saturday, April 23, 2005

Who the heck is Corneille E.N. Ewango?

Who is Corneille E.N. Ewango? (Updated January 02, 2006)

This post is for the benefit of participants who have completed the Africa Quiz 2005 at the Global Voices Online - Blog Africa project site. We hope that you enjoyed taking the short quiz on Africa and will follow the global dialogue on African affairs in the blogosphere for 2006. Following is the text of my original question entry for the Africa Quiz 2005 that contains detailed information and links about the correct answer.


What is the name of the African botanist and conservationist who was the recipient of the 2005
Goldman Environmental Prize for courageous acts to preserve endangered wildlife and plant species in the Okapi Faunal Reserve?

Hint: The Okapi Faunal Reserve is a
UNESCO World Heritage Site located in a country that is home to 50% of Africa’s tropical moist rainforests.

Wangari Maathai - Kenya

Sama S. Banya -
Sierra Leone

Corneille E.N. Ewango -
Democratic Republic of Congo

Jef Dupain -
Democratic Republic of Congo


A. Wangari Maathai - Incorrect
Wangari Maathai is the internationally renowned Kenyan environmentalist, activitst, government minister, and the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Wangari Maathai did receive a Goldman Environmental Prize in 1991.

B. Sama S. Banya - Incorrect
Sama S. Banya, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation in the government of Sierra Leone, was awarded a
Birdlife Conservation Achievement Award in March 2004 for his work to help preserve precious bird and wildlife sanctuaries in his home country and his work in facilitating the signing and ratification of several international conservation agreements.

C. Corneille E.N. Ewango - Correct
Corneille E.N. Ewango, a former staff member of the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature, was responsible for the botany program in the Okapi Faunal Reserve in the eastern D.R.C. from 1996 to 2003. The reserve covers more than 3 million acres and is home to the Mbuti people (indigenous pygmies) and to 13 primate species, elephants, and animals found nowhere else on Earth, including the Okapi (a forest giraffe).

Amidst the chaos of two brutal wars, economic and political corruption, and the rampant resource exploitation that took place for more than a decade in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), Corneille Ewango was able to save the reserve’s precious herbarium collection, computers, research and data on 380,000 trees and plants___ and his own life. Working together with only 30 junior staff members who did not flee the fighting, Ewango was able to mobilize more than 1500 local residents of the Ituri forest region to stand up against marauding militias who were raping and murdering and bandits who were illegally exploiting and exporting the Congo’s gold, diamonds, coltan, and timber.

Corneille E.N. Ewango was awarded the
2005 Goldman Environmental Prize and a no-strings attached grant of USD$ 125,000.00 together with 4 other recipients in April 2005. He is due to complete his graduate studies in Tropical Botany at the University of Missouri – St. Louis this year.

D. Jef Dupain - Incorrect
Jef Dupain is a primatologist working for the
African Wildlife Foundation famous for his work with the bonobo species, a member of the Great Apes family and very close relative of the chimpanzee. Jef’s work with the endangered bonobos of the central African rainforests dates back to 1994 when he set out for the very remote Lomako Forests of the Congo River Basin. After the outbreak of war in 1997, bonobo populations in the region were devastated by the civil unrest, burgeoning human populations and loss of habitat, bushmeat trade for the illegal mining and timber extraction, and the illegal global trade in endangered wildlife.

Bonobos are the closest relative of humans in the Great Apes family, sharing 98.4% of our genetic makeup. Unlike their more aggressive chimpanzee cousins, bonobos are noted for their docile natures and matriarchal societies. The Bonobos’ similarities to humans has long been noted by the indigenous peoples (pygmies) of the Congo Basin. Their legends tell of bonobos showing men what foods were available in the forest to eat.

Jef Dupain returned to the Lomako Forest region of the D.R.C. in 2002 to continue his work studying and protecting the bonobos. The
award-winning documentary The Ghosts of Lomako features his recent work with these mysterious and precious primates. Jef Dupain is presently chief coordinator of the AWF Congo Heartlands project.


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