As a botanist at the Okapi Wildlife Reserve in the Congo basin, Corneille Ewango has faced down poachers and soldiers who threaten this delicate and vital ecosystem.
Corneille Ewango grew up in a family of poachers and hunters -- it was simply a way of life in his village. But when he got the chance to go to school, he found a new mission -- to study and preserve the flora and fauna of his region, the Congo Basin forest. In his passion for the forest, Ewango found himself an unwitting hero, taking bold steps to secure its resources and convince warring parties to leave it in peace.
The Congo Basin's great forests are under pressure from many angles. Settlers look here for fresh farmland; miners look for deposits of valuable col-tan; and soldiers fight over the forests both as territory to be won and as a resource for bush meat (from the threatened okapi) and cooking charcoal. It's home to families of pygmies and herds of okapi -- and a treasure house of green, growing things.
"A man who’s seen more hardship and done more hard work that most of us could ever imagine."Ethan Zuckerman, My Heart's in Accra