It was a special moment for international environmental protection on Wednesday when the President of the Federal Parliament (Bundestag), Dr Wolfgang Schäuble, presented the German Africa Prize 2018 to conservationists Clovis Razafimalala from Madagascar and Gerald Bigurube from Tanzania.
Ecological and economic development must go hand in hand, Schäuble at the ceremony, attended by over 300 guests from the worlds of politics, business and civil society in Berlin. Malagasy environmental activist Clovis Razafimalala and Gerald Bigurube, the country director of the Frankfurt Zoological Society in Tanzania, were honoured at the ceremony for their exceptional commitment as environmentalists by the German Africa Foundation (Deutsche Afrika Stiftung or DAS).
With his organization Coalition Lampogno, Clovis Razafimalala fights against the depletion of rosewood in Madagascar. And he finds little support from the Malagasy government, which is accused of being involved in the trade itself. Razafimalala has been persecuted for his efforts to protect the environment. He spent 10 months in prison for allegedly participating in a public protest at which he was not even physically present. His prison sentence was converted to five years on probation only after international protests. Giving up is not an option for Razafimalala, who said: “The forest is my life”.
For his part, Gerald Bigurube has worked tirelessly for 44 years to protect nature and wildlife in Tanzania. For 16 years he worked for the Tanzanian National Park Authority (TANAPA). Under his leadership, poaching was drastically reduced and wildlife stocks recovered significantly. Bigurube’s approach is that nature conservation can only be sustainable if the local population is involved. He played a key role in the development of the Wildlife Management Areas, through which the income from safari tourism also benefits the people living there.
The German Africa Foundation has been promoting German-African relations for 40 years. With the German Africa Prize, it honours outstanding personalities who stand up for democracy, peace, human rights, the environment, culture, economic development and social issues with courage, commitment and integrity. For the past 25 years, the German Africa Prize has been highlighting success stories from the African continent.
The German Africa Award has previously been awarded to Ugandan human rights lawyer Nicolas Opiyo, South African Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, Tunisian unionist Houcine Abassi and Timbuktu’s manuscript custodian Abdel Kader Haidara. The prize provides the recipients with international recognition and a platform to further their cause.