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Maria Diekmann, Viktoria Keding, and Rod Braby are the three finalists in the Conservation Category of the Windhoek Lager Ambassador Initiative.
MARIA DIEKMANN – Rare and Endangered Species Trust
“I was the little girl that would organise friends to save worms off the sidewalk on a rainy day, so that they would not get trampled. I always picked the Christmas tree that was the scraggliest, as I knew that was the one no one else would take. Thus my organisation’s focus on the ‘forgotten 5’ animals of Namibia – the animals with little exposure or research.”
Maria founded REST, the Rare and Endangered Species Trust, in 2000.
Originally Maria envisaged REST as playing a supporting role in the effort to conserve endangered species such as the Cape Griffon vulture. As time went by however, it became clear that REST would be better suited to play a leading role in conserving several different endangered species and these Maria call the forgotten 5. They are the Africa-dog; Damara Dik-Dik; dwarf Python; Cape Griffon vulture; and the Cape Pangolin.
“Conservation of any type is important to this one world we all share. People, water, plants and animals are vital to life as we know it. Namibia is blessed with incredible flora and fauna and it is our right and obligation to protect these species for ourselves, future generations and the rest of the world. I think that the Windhoek Lager Ambassador Initiative is a true reflection of Namibia.
The fact that the awards choose representatives from all walks of life in Namibia, shows the commitment of Namibia Breweries to profile the achievements of everyday Namibians doing what they love and are committed to, for the betterment of our country”, concluded Maria.
Viktoria Keding, Director and Co-founder of NaDEET, the Namib Desert Environmental Education Trust, says that ever since the age of 14 she wanted to protect the environment:
“Initially I wanted to become an environmental lawyer, but during a 6-month university programme in Botswana I quickly realized that I love working with people.
For me the beauty of nature and what nature provides for us drives me to share this with others. Our guiding principal at NaDEET is to ‘practice what we teach’. I will never tell others to use solar, save water or bring their own bag to go shopping if I don’t do it myself.”
For Viktoria, sustainable development relies on three pillars, viz economy, society and the environment.
“Conservation of the environment is key to ensure that not only do we have sufficient resources to provide for all people, but that the resources are clean and that Namibians can have a good quality of life. One of the things that Namibians love most is the freedom and wide open spaces of this country.
Through a conservation ethic, Namibia can prosper without damaging what makes it so unique”, concluded Viktoria.
Rod Braby, NACOMA (Namibian Coast Conservation and Management) Project Co-ordinator, worked for the Ministry of the Environment and Tourism at the Namibian coast for 20 years and joined NACOMA as senior technical advisor in 2005.
“As a child, I was witness to an industrial complex completely sterilizing an area of biodiversity and stunning landscape and realised something must be done so that we fit into nature and not destroy and modify it.
The interest to conserve nature became a passion. I believe that if we embrace nature it will embrace us.”
Braby is currently coordinating the NACOMA project which focuses on strengthening and mainstreaming biodiversity conservation on the Namibian coast.
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