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2007 SAB Environmentalist and Environmental Journalists of the Year Awards - 16 October 2007

Green and brown issues took centre stage at the SAB Environmentalist of the Year and Environmental Journalists of the Year Awards which were held at the SAB World of Beer in Newtown.

Andrew Muir, executive director of the Wilderness Foundation, was named Environmentalist of the Year and received the Nick Steele Memorial Award for his work. The award is given in honour of the late legendary game ranger Nick Steele, and honours an environmentalist who has promoted the cause of conservation and whose work will leave a legacy for years to come. The merit award in this category went to Joe Matimba, project manager at Food and Trees for Africa.

Karl Ammann was named SAB Environmental Journalist in the broadcast category for his documentary The Cairo Connection, which was broadcast on SABC2’s 50/50. Ammann is one of the world’s top environmental journalists – he is already the winner of the prestigious Dolly Green Award for Artistic Achievement at the Genesis Awards, for his work on the illegal bush-meat trade in Cameroon. The Cairo Connection looks at the illegal smuggling of primates from Africa.

Honoured alongside him as SAB Environmental Journalist in the print & internet category was Elise Tempelhoff of Beeld. The judges’ commended her for the huge amount of research that goes into her stories – some, like her article on the impact of gold mines in the West Rand on the environment, were investigated over a period of five years.

Merit winners in the broadcast category were Anneliese Burgess for Heat and Running on Empty broadcast on SABC3’s Special Assignment; Liz Fish for SABC’s poignant The Spirit of the Mountain and Tekweni Television’s Sandra Herrington for her documentary on the illegal development at Kosi Bay.

Print & internet merit winners were Jorisna Bonthuys of Die Burger for a body of work; Roberta Griffiths for the youth publication EnviroKids; freelancer Leoni Joubert, who has specialised in climate change in the South African context; Leon Marshall of The Star for a series on transfrontier-park development in Southern Africa, and Sophia Swanepoel and Laskarina Yiannakaris for the Eco Babe column in True Love Babe, which integrates green living into everyday lives rather than treat it like a fad.

Along with the coveted title, the three category winners each took home R15 000. Merit winners received R2 000.

In an effort to make the event more carbon-friendly, a tree will be planted in each guest’s name/on behalf of each guest? in Soweto as part of the 2010 Soweto Greening Project.

There were a record number of 127 entries this year but according to the panel of judges, what was even more gratifying was the high standard of entries received for the awards. The judges were JP Louw; Jeunesse Park; “The Lion Man” Gareth Patterson; Dr Ian Player; Windsor Shuenyane and John Yeld.

Says Tony van Kralingen, MD of SAB Limited: “We are both honoured and proud to see how the awards have gone from strength to strength over the past two decades, and become South Africa’s most prestigious accolade for journalists producing crucial environmental coverage. The number and quality of entries is a clear indication that the South African media are placing a stronger focus on environmental matters – and for this we commend them. As the gatekeepers and voice of our society, the media have a defining role to play in educating the public about the ever-increasing environmental challenges our country, and our world, face.”