Corneille 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.
Corneille 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.
“Corneille is especially impressive in covering all species, from the charismatic mega-fauna through to the plants of DR Congo. His courage in staying in the field during a time of war to continue protecting valuable species is a true inspiration. His focus on training others and sticking to projects in the long term are essential if conservation in central Africa is to have a future.” – 2011, Simon Stuart, International Selection Committee