Mateus Mutemba began his long journey from Gorongosa National Park in central Mozambique to Missoula, Montana with a sense of excitement and pride in his work and his country. Mateus travelled to the 36th Annual International Wildlife Film Festival (IWFF) in Montana to receive the prestigious ‘Conservation Hero of the Year’ award. This award is given to an individual for their significant contributions, exemplary service, knowledge, and impact on wildlife or marine conservation. For Mateus to receive this award for his life’s work in conservation at Gorongosa National Park was a crowning achievement in his career.
Photo: Mateus Mutemba receiving the IWFF Conservation Hero Award (by Slikati Photography)
Mateus shared the story of Gorongosa, perhaps the greatest wildlife restoration story of our time, with the captivated audience. He spoke about the unique 20-year public-private partnership between the Government of Mozambique and the Gorongosa Restoration Project, a U.S. non-profit organization. He explained that Gorongosa, at the southern end of the Great African Rift Valley protects an incredible diversity of landscapes, plants, and wildlife. Gorongosa is considered “the most diverse park in the world” by the preeminent scientist, Dr. E.O. Wilson and is the crown jewel of Mozambique’s national park system.
Photo: Gorongosa National Park’s famous floodplain (by Piotr Naskrecki)
Mateus’ deep connection with nature and his country has been a guiding force in his career that ultimately led him to become the Administrator of Gorongosa National Park. Mateus began his work at Gorongosa National Park as the Director of Community Relations where he developed projects to improve the well-being of people living around Gorongosa. Mateus later became the Gorongosa National Park Administrator and is responsible for protecting Gorongosa’s ecosystem and its people from threats by working hand-in-hand with the Government of Mozambique.
Photo: Mateus with his award at the film festival (by Slikati Photography)
Mateus proudly represented his National Park and his country as he accepted the award in front of some of the top filmmakers, producers, broadcasters, scientists, and conservation leaders in the world. The International Wildlife Film Festival is heralded as one of the most significant annual wildlife film and conservation events and has honored such previous recipients as Dr. Thomas S. Kaplan (Panthera), Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton (Save the Elephants), and Dr. Laurie Marker (Cheetah Conservation Fund).
Photo: The 36th Annual International Wildlife Film Festival (by Slikati Photography)
Gorongosa National Park is in good hands under the protection of Mateus Mutemba and the many hard-working people that have dedicated their lives to preserving this special wilderness.
By Bridget Conneely