By Patrick J. Bergin, Ph.D.
Seven environmental activists were honored today in San Francisco with the 14th annual Goldman Environmental Prize.
The Goldman Environmental Prize is given annually to grassroots environmental heroes from six geographic areas: Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands and Island Nations, North America, and South and Central America. (Two winners share the Island Nations award this year.) The Prize includes a no-strings-attached award of $125,000.
As the largest award of its kind, the Goldman Environmental Prize has been called the "Nobel Prize for the Environment."
If natural habitats are to be conserved, the people who depend on them must also survive. AWF believes that through conservation enterprise, conservation areas can be developed into commercially viable land, which can leverage space for wildlife while improving the livelihoods of local people. By assisting rural communities to establish conservation enterprises, the presence of wild animals becomes a potentially profitable opportunity rather than a costly nuisance.
An outbreak of Ebola, first confirmed early in 2003 when a band of lowland gorillas in the northwest section of the Congo began to die, is now spreading eastward, claiming the lives of hundreds of gorillas and chimpanzees. To date, the deadly disease has also claimed over 140 human lives, most likely due to the victims eating meat from infected primates
On February 27th, scientists at the Goma Volcano Observatory in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo indicated that seismic activity in the region was increasing "very fast". Mount Nyamuragira, they stated could erupt in a "matter of weeks, or even days".
The Observatory said its scientists were monitoring a potential eruption and were hoping "to prevent possible panic". Local authorities, UN agencies and NGOs were being kept informed.