Conde Nast Traveler Announces 2005 Environmental Award Winner Pierre Kakule Vwirasihikya of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Oct 17, 2005, 01:00 ET from Conde Nast Traveler

    NEW YORK, Oct. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Conde Nast Traveler will award Pierre
 Kakule Vwirasihikya, a 46-year old native of the Democratic Republic of the
 Congo, the 2005 Environmental Award.  The ceremony will take place at the
 Readers' Choice Awards -- the "Oscars" of the travel industry -- on Monday,
 October 17th at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
     (Photo: )
     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
     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.
     Klara Glowczewska, Editor in Chief of Conde Nast Traveler, will present
 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."
     This year's Environmental Award runners-up include Mexico's Felipe Arreaga
 Sanchez and Celsa Valdovinos, a husband and wife team fighting against illegal
 lodging in a coastal forest; Sergei Shapkhaev, a professor in Siberia who
 rerouted an oil pipeline to save the world's oldest lake; and Peru's Father
 Marco Aronna, a parish priest in the Andes who stopped a gold mine from
 desecrating a sacred mountain.
     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, can be found
 in the November issue of Conde Nast Traveler, on newsstands October 25th.
     The November issue of Conde Nast Traveler is available on newsstands on
 October 25th.  Unlike many other travel publications, Conde Nast Traveler does
 not accept free travel and accommodations, and its correspondents, as far as
 possible, travel anonymously.  The result is travel the way consumers
 experience it -- good and bad, with reporting that is fair and honest.  Conde
 Nast Traveler recently won its 6th National Magazine Award and is still the
 only travel publication to have won the highest honor in magazine publishing.
 Conde Nast Traveler, the 2005 Zagat Survey Best Travel Magazine, has a
 circulation of over 750,000 and is published by Conde Nast Publications, Inc.

SOURCE Conde Nast Traveler