A special moment for international environmental protection: On the evening of 27 November, the President of the German Bundestag, Dr Wolfgang Schäuble, presented the German Africa Award 2018 to the nature and environmental conservationists Clovis Razafimalala and Gerald Bigurube. Ecological and economic development had to go hand in hand, explained Dr Wolfgang Schäuble, President of the Bundestag, at the award ceremony in front of more than 300 invited guests from politics, business and society at the Allianz Forum in Berlin. At the ceremony, the Madagascan environmental activist Clovis Razafimalala and Gerald Bigurube, the regional director of the Frankfurt Zoological Society in Tanzania, were honoured for their extraordinary commitment as environmentalists by the German Africa Foundation.
With his organisation Coalition Lampogno, Clovis Razafimalala is committed to combating the overexploitation of rosewoods in Madagascar. Here, he receives little support from the Malagasy government, which is often accused of being involved in the trade itself. Mr Razafimalala is steadfastly resisting all attempts at corruption and continues to live in modest circumstances. He also risked his freedom for his work and beliefs: accused of inciting rebellion during a demonstration, Clovis Razafimalala was arrested and sentenced to prison, despite statements by numerous eyewitnesses confirming that he was not present. Only after 10 months in prison and under pressure from international organisations, his sentence was commuted to five years’ probation. However, giving up is not an option for Razafimalala: “The forest is my life”.
Gerald Bigurube has been relentlessly campaigning for nature and wildlife conservation in Tanzania for 44 years. For 16 years he worked for the Tanzanian National Park Authority TANAPA. Under his leadership, poaching was drastically reduced and wildlife populations recovered significantly. Mr. Bigurube follows the approach that nature conservation can only be sustainable if the local population is involved. He played a crucial role in the development of the Wildlife Management Areas, which helped to ensure that the income from safari tourism also benefits the people living there.
The welcoming speeches by Dr. Coenraad Vrolijk, Managing Director for Africa of Allianz, and Dr. Uschi Eid, President of the German Africa Foundation, were followed by the documentary film “Life for tomorrow” about the two award winners, produced by Deutsche Welle under the direction of Claus Stäcker. The laudatory speech was held by Dr. Volker Faigle, president of the jury and member of the foundation’s board, before the president of the German parliament Dr. Wolfgang Schäuble could hand over the prize statues. Both emphasised the extraordinary commitment and dedication with which the prize winners are working for the environment. In the subsequent discussion, moderated by ARD chief spokesperson Jan Hofer, both spoke about obstacles they face in their work and the current political situation in their home countries. The Malagasy-German duo Erick Manana & Jenny Fuhr accompanied the successful evening with music.