- Joachim Ayitey of The Daily Guide
won First Prize in Conservation International's 2002 "Biodiversity Reporting Award" with his in-depth look at the growing trade of illegal dolphin meat. The article, published on May 24, 2002 under the title "Why Dolphins?", also questioned the media's reluctance to report on the issue. The award ceremony took place at the M-Plaza Hotel, at the closing of the "National Conference on Bushmeat Crisis in Ghana", organized by Conservation International (CI).
"Moving around the country to gather information for my articles, I was struck by the wanton destruction of the dolphins in our waters," wrote Ayitey. "For me, as an environmental journalist, this is news that has to be brought to the attention of policy makers, the general public in Ghana, and beyond for remedial action."
The Second Prize was given to Dzifa Asumah for her article "Preserving Wildlife Heritage for a Better Tomorrow", which appeared in the Accra Daily Mail
and The Dispatch
. "Wildlife plays a crucial role in the socio-cultural development of Africa, particularly in Ghana, where it features prominently in festivals, the arts, drama and folklore," Asumah explained.
Edmund Smith-Asante's two-part series entitled "Ghana's Marine Turtles Going Extinct" took third place. The articles were published in The Independent
and took a look at projects being designed to protect Ghana's increasingly threatened marine turtle population.
"The fact that we received so many powerful, diverse and qualified entries in this year's Biodiversity Reporting Award is a sign of Ghana's growing environmental awareness," said Conservational International-Ghana Director Okyeame Ampadu-Agyei. "I commend all journalists who participated in this year's contest."
This year's First Prize winner will attend the annual conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) in October 2002, in Baltimore, USA. Second and third prize winners have received a cash award of ¢2,000,000 Cedis and ¢1,000,000 Cedis, respectively. All three winners have received a plaque, a two-year membership to the International Federation of Environmental Journalists (IFEJ), and a professional resource kit from the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ).
"This contest, in its second year in Ghana, has been generating incentives to engage journalists in the coverage of biodiversity," said Haroldo Castro, CI's Vice-President for International Communications and Executive Director of the Award. "This year 15 journalists submitted 27 articles addressing crucial biodiversity issues. These articles have contributed to raise awareness about the importance of protecting Ghana's natural resources."
Honorable Mentions went to Kofi Akpabli for "Baobabs, Baobabs and more", which appeared in the Accra Daily Mail
; Osei Kwadwo Adow for "Wildlife, A Source of Medicine", published in the Green Dove
; Tina Aforo-Yeboah for "Recreating the Garden of Eden in Today's World", which appeared in the Evening News
; and Kwarteng Kojo Emmanuel for "Policy and Education on Biodiversity", published in The Daily Graphic
This year, three special awards were given to professionals working in Television and Radio. Afia Ansaa Ampene of GTV
and Grace Omaboe of Metro TV
received the "Excellence in Television Broadcasting Award", and Amankwa Ampofo of GBC Radio
was the recipient of the "Excellence in Radio Broadcasting Award". The three honorees received a cash prize of 2,000,000 Cedis each and a plaque.
The "Biodiversity Reporting Award" in Ghana is an initiative of CI, in collaboration with the ICFJ and the IFEJ, to recognize the work of journalists covering the environment and stimulate their continued efforts. Articles on issues such as scientific research and findings, ecotourism development, and other economic alternatives to the destruction of biodiversity, as well as the threats to the conservation of Ghana's natural heritage, are all invited to participate in the contest. Both staff and freelance journalists may submit up to four entries in the contest.
Established in 1999, the Award was first launched in Guatemala and Guyana. In 2000, it was expanded to include Colombia; in 2001, Bolivia, Brazil and Ghana entered the competition. This year, the contest was held in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Guyana, Peru and Ghana — the sole African country to be included.
A jury comprised of five people, including representatives of IFEJ, ICFJ and CI, reviewed the articles and selected the winners. All articles will be reproduced in the home page of the contest, located at www.biodiversityreporting.org
The Biodiversity Reporting Award was made possible through the support of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), the Virginia W. Cabot Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Conservation International (CI) applies innovations in science, economics, policy and community participation to protect the Earth's richest regions of plant and animal diversity in the biodiversity hotspots, high-biodiversity wilderness areas and key marine ecosystems. With headquarters in Washington, D.C., CI works in more than 40 countries on four continents. For more information about CI, visit www.conservation.org.