Congo Gorilla Reserve Helps People


Conde Nast Traveler awarded Pierre Kakule Vwirasihikya, a 46-year old native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the 2005 Environmental Award.

Conde Nast Traveler awarded Pierre Kakule Vwirasihikya, a 46-year old native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the 2005 Environmental Award.


The ceremony took place at the Readers' Choice Awards -- the "Oscars" of the travel industry -- on Monday, October 17th at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Kakule Vwirasihikya has devoted his life to protecting gorillas from extinction. The Congo's decade-long civil war killed an estimated three million people and decimated the country's eastern lowland region, where Vwirasihikya's family has lived for generations. The ongoing violence also led to a sharp decline in the Eastern Lowland gorilla population, which plummeted by 70 percent to as few as 5,000 animals. As a national park ranger during the war, Vwirasihikya remained at his post without pay despite the constant threats from poachers. More recently, he convinced the local people, government officials and even the rebel leaders to support his plan for a gorilla sanctuary.

The result of Vwirasihikya's efforts is the 225,000-acre Tayna Gorilla Reserve, which not only protects gorillas, elephants, and leopards, but also provides many locals with jobs.

 Last year, Vwirasihikya helped start a community college called Tayna Center for Conservation Biology, where more than a hundred Congolese students are studying natural resource management and conservation.

Klara Glowczewska, Editor in Chief of Conde Nast Traveler, presented Vwirasihikya the Environmental Award. "We started the Conde Nast Traveler Environmental Award in 1990, as a way to recognize otherwise little-known heroes whose environmental good works benefit locals and travelers alike," said Glowczewska. "Pierre Kakule Vwirasihikya is remarkable for his courage, vision, humility, and enormous contributions to both the people and the wildlife of the Democratic Republic of the Congo."

The Environmental Award is sponsored by John Paul DeJoria, Co-Founder, President and CEO of John Paul Mitchell Systems. "John Paul Mitchell Systems has a history of supporting environmental causes, and is devoted to making the world a better place with its earth-friendly policies and strategies that include opposition to animal testing and harvesting environmentally-safe botanicals," said DeJoria. "We are honored to support this important award."

A complete listing of the judges, as well as a detailed story about Pierre Kakule Vwirasihikya's efforts and ways to help support his cause, appear in the November issue of Conde Nast Traveler.

Now in its sixteenth year, Conde Nast Traveler's Environmental Award is given to an individual who has played a significant role in protecting and enhancing the environment. Past winners have come from all corners of the globe and have included scientists, journalists, teachers, and farmers. Conde Nast Traveler's first environmental award was given to Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan professor and last year's recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.


Conde Nast Traveler is solely responsible for the contents of this press release.

Watch for forthcoming coverage of Vwirashihikya' s efforts on the Horizon Solutions Site.  In the interim, you can learn more about his efforts and about how you can help by contacting him directly:

Pierre Kakule Vwirashihikya
Tayna Gorilla Reserve Coordinator
V. P. Conservation, International Primatological Society
PO Box 167 Gisenyi/ Rwanda ,

Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo
Tel. : 00(250)08653697  


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