Corneille Ewango, the well-known Congolese botanist, forest ecologist and conservationist who received his doctoral degree at the Wageningen University (part of Wageningen UR) in 2010, was the recipient of the Future for Nature award 2011 at the Burgers’ Zoo in Arnhem on 5 April 2011. Ewango was granted the award and the € 50,000 prize for his contribution to the future of nature in general and the Congo in particular. Ewango risked his life to protect the local population and environment in the vast Ituri rainforest in northeast Congo during the civil war in his country.
Wageningen alumnus wins major international nature conservation award
Ewango grew up among poachers and it was a chance occurrence that led to him becoming involved in nature conservation. Having had his application to study medicine turned down three times, Ewango started studying biology, initially mainly to pass the time. After three years, however, he had lost his heart to nature and nature conservation.
During the Congolese civil war from 1998 to 2003, Ewango staked his life by passing on messages from the inside about the plans and actions of the rebels who were aiming to kill both the local population of northeast Congo and the local wildlife. In the period hereafter, Ewango used his research for nature conservation and became active in spreading the word about the importance of conservation for the future of the environment.
Ewango held a prestigious TED lecture in 2007 and in November 2010 obtained his doctoral degree at Wageningen University following research into 300 types of lianas.
The Future for Nature award was bestowed at the Burgers’ Zoo in Arnhem on April 5. It was accepted by Professor Frans Bongers of Wageningen University on behalf of Ewango, who was unable to get a visa due to administrative reasons.