Entomologist, Speleologist and Ecologist

Born at Vado Ligure on 9 October 1918, Mario Pavan’s family moved to Brescia when he was two years old.  At the turn of WW II he explored and described many caves in the province of Brescia.  He met and worked with the French experts in speleology and bio-speleology Norbert Casteret and René Jeannel. In 1943 he graduated in Natural Sciences from Pavia University, where went on to teach as professor of Entomology and founded its Institute of Entomology in 1964. His discoveries in the field of animal poisons and chemical secretions of arthropods generated new branches of intense scientific research by numerous scientists throughout the world: he isolated and examined at least 15 biologically active substances, first and foremost Pederin, which was adopted in African and American therapies for allieviating bedsores and different types of ulcers.

In the 1950s he began his work with the Italian State Forestry Commission, initially providing scientific support for special projects, such as the transfer of ant hills from the Prealps to the Pavia Appennines and the battle against tree-damaging insects: the results of his studies were acknowledged by the International Biological Pest Control Organisation (OILB). Through his work with the Forestry Commission, he came to know the territory well, and also saw with his own eyes the fragile state of ecosystems exposed to a host of risks due to neglect, pollution and speculation. This experience led Pavan to direct his research and committment towards environmental problems in Italy and abroad.  With the support of Pavia University, he acted as consultant to the parliamentary committees that led to the law on State Natural Reserves: this was a new territorial management policy that created 250 State and Regional Natural Reserves in Italy.  Italy was awarded the rarely assigned, much sought after European Diploma by the 21 nations of the Council of Europe, for the first Natural Reserve, at Sasso Fratino in the state-owned forests of Casentino, proposed and created by Pavan.  Over a period of roughly 20 years he was often called on by foreign countries to create over 300 natural reserves, which include the Andes Paramo National Park, Ecuador and the Jubaland National Park, Somalia.

His long service on the Council of Europe, where he chaired the European Committee for the Safeguarding of Nature and Natural Resources, helped member states to adopt significant initiatives for protecting the environment and set up a European network of Biogenetic Reserves.

Recognising his total dedication to the serious problems involving the world’s natural environment and his many prestigious Italian and international roles, in 1987 Mario Pavan was appointed Minister of the Environment in the Fanfani government: he published a fully documented report on his ministerial activities.

Mario Pavan died on 16 May 2003.

MOTIVATION

Internationally renowned entomologist and ecologist, Mario Pavan, a professor at Pavia University, represents a rare, positive example of the tutor and researcher who, without ever abandoning the innate curiosity of the naturalist, went beyond his confines to work in the complex social world, bringing the voice of competence to politics and international organisations.  His activities as a ‘non-politician in the world of politics’, culminated in his recent appointment as Minister of the Environment, to which he has offered his contribution of culture and dedication to his work.

 

Mario Pavan has studied and explored all the continents and oceans, produced ten books and hundreds of scientific papers, all essential to knowing and managing territorial ecology. A victorious warrior in many battles to safeguard Nature, he has acted with the State Forestry Commission to set up natural reserves, the start of a new policy for territorial management that has led to 250 State and Regional Natural Reserves in Italy.  Italy was awarded the rarely assigned, much desired, European Diploma by the 21 nations of the Council of Europe for the Sasso Fratino Natural Reserve, proposed and created by him.

By assigning him the ‘Honoris Causa’ for his opera omnia, the Jury intends to honour the exemplary life of a scientist who never retreated into his ivory tower.  The Premio Management Committee and Jury, together with his friends and the Veneto people, greet Mario Pavan, whose ancestors hailed from the province of Treviso.

Partisan and Writer

Nuto Revelli was born in 1919 at Cuneo. In 1942 he left for the Russian front as a volunteer, an officer of the Second Alpine Division ‘Tridentina’, to take part in the second defensive battle on the Don.  He experienced the tragedy of withdrawal, taking part in the battle of Nikolaevka. When he returned to Italy, in September 1943 he joint the Italian Resistance, initially with his own squad, and then with the Italian Liberation Band of the Cuneo Justice and Liberation groups.

At long intervals between them, he published six books with Einaudi, relating his difficult personal experiences, the result of forty years of determined research and documentation to lend a passionate voice to the Italy that didn’t count, the alienated, and the forgotten.  First of all, the veterans of all wars, then the farm labourers in the poorest countryside and last but not least the female figures of the “calabrotte” (hornets).

They are the voices of the ‘defeated’, a detailed fresco of a vanquished world, part of our society substantially in disarray, which he depicts with sensitivity, civil committment, love of the people and deep respect for the humble. The pages are impetuous tales of poverty, brutal fatigue and hunger, on the very edge of survival: The diary of an Alpine soldier in Russia (1946); The war of the poor (1962); The testimony of forty war veterans of Cuneo (1966); Letters from soldiers who died or went missing in WW II (1971); Testimony of farm life (1977). His last work The Strong Ring in the Chain. Women: stories of farm life (1985), which received the 1986 Grinzane Cavour Prize, told the stories narrated to him by 260 courageous women on the margins of society.

Revelli’s last three books published by Einaudi are inspired by the horrific experience of war and the fight for liberation, which after such a long time still pose questions and disturb consciences.  Decorated for Military Valour and his participation in the Resistance, on 29 October 1999 Turin University conferred on him a Laurea Honoris Causa in Education Sciences “for his activities as a narrator and essay writer, but above all for the pedagogical abilities he employed to disseminate the history of the war and post-war period in South Piedmont”.

Nuto Revelli died at Cuneo on 5 February 2004.

MOTIVATION

“The Association’s Management Committee, acting on the unanimous decision of the Jury, has assigned the 1988 Honoris Causa to Nuto Revelli, honouring his strenuous moral and civil committment, which directed his gaze to the mountain areas and the ‘world of the defeated’.”

 

Archeologist and Orientalist

Sabatino Moscati was born into a Jewish family in Rome in 1922.  Attracted by the Orient, but unable to attend the state university due to race laws, he studied at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, where he graduated in 1945.

Having achieved a professorship in Compared Hebrew and Semitic Languages and in Muslim History and Institutions, he lectured in the universities of Rome (1946-54), Florence (1950-52) and the Naples University Oriental Institute (1953-58). At the end of 1954 he won a teaching post in Compared Hebrew and Semitic Languages and was appointed to Rome’s ‘La Sapienza’ University, where he taught until 1982, transferring that year to Tor Vergata.

From the sixties Moscati directed his research on the Phoenician component of Mediterranean civilisation, extending to the Punic world and other aspects of the history and archeology of the ancient Mediterranean.  His essay ‘The Phoenician Question'(1963), in which he wrote of all aspects of the origins of Pheonician civilisation at the beginning of the Iron Age, contains the embryo of all the main themes of his later studies and teaching.

His writings on the Pheonician and Punic civilisation argue that the complexity of the Mediterranean world cannot be dismissed as a Greek and Roman bipolar vision, but must embrace the cultural components of the civilisations that more or less continuously revolved around the ancient Med. The Pheonician and Punic world is therefore linked to the formation of Italy’s history, in the same way as the Celts and other Italic populations: in such light, the ancient Mediterranean is no longer seen as an exclusively Greek-Roman cultural area, but as part of a wider horizon where East and West meet.

Moscati organised and directed important archeological missions: in Palestine, where he brought to light the citadel of the Kings of Judah at Ramat Rahel; in Sicily where the sacrificial stele of the sacred area of Motya re-emerged; Malta, where Juno’s temple and the Christian remains of St. Paul were uncovered; in Sardinia, where the Punic city of Mount Sirai was discovered; Tunisia, the site at Cape Bon of several fortresses from the Punic Age.

He published many studies, carefully written with the aim of disseminating and making scientific subjects accessible to the public at large.  With the same intention, he organised extremely popular archeological exhibitions at Palazzo Grassi, Venice, particularly those on the Pheonicians (1988, 750,000 visitors) and the Celts (1991), and a monthly magazine, Archeo, published by De Agostini from 1984 to 1997.

Besides his academic activities, Moscati held many positions of responsibility in scientific and cultural institutions and founded scientific publications, as well as editing many others.

 

Full member of the Pontificia Academy of Archeology, he was correspondent member and then national member in 1959 and 1968 respectively of the National Lincei Academy, of which he was vice chair from 1991 to 1994 and chair from 1994 to 1997.

Sabatino Moscati died in Rome on 8 September 1997.

MOTIVATION

The Promotion Committee and the Prize Jury has awarded him the 1986 Honoris Causa, for exceptional merits acquired during his studies and archeological research projects.

 

 

 

Architect and Founder of the Fondo per l’Ambiente Italiano, the Italian equivalent of the National Trust

Born in Milan in 1922, Renato Bazzoni graduated in Architecture from the Milan Polytechnic and for twenty years served the same university as assistant professor of Architectural Composition.  Although during the boom years of the 50s he designed and built public and industrial buildings, hotels, houses and hospitals in Lombardy’s capital, he true passion was rural architecture “created by the people living in the countryside, mountains or on the coasts”, as he defined them.  This passion urged him to travel around Italy with his camera to document a fast disappearing rural world, farm fortresses, isolated churches and conic stone roof houses all over Italy, reporting the socio-economic changes taking place there.

In 1964 he became a member of Italia Nostra and served as president of the Milan section from 1973 to 1977.  Since 1981 he has been consultant to the national HQ.  In 1967 he used his photographs to create and curate an exhibition, Italia da salvare, the first important exhibition in Italy to report the disasters caused by environmental instability and the ruinous situation of the country’s artistic heritage. The exhibition was an international success – it toured Italy, Europe and the USA for five years – and shocked public opinion after the flooding of Florence and Venice in 1966.

In 1975 Bazzoni, Giulia Maria Crespi, Renato Predieri and Franco Russoli founded the Fondo Ambiente Italiano (FAI), a non-profit foundation whose aim was to enhance and protect Italy’s art and nature, following in the footsteps of the English National Trust.

The FAI became Bazzoni’s life and work, as a technical expert in heritage restoration and as an indefatigable promoter of the association’s growth, being responsible for a number of important restoration projects and organising conferences and trips, as well as editing the association’s newsletter.

He published numerous articles, monographs, books, lessons and research reports for the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (“State of the Italian Coastline”, “Charter for the Mountains”, “Charter for Landscape Restrictions in Lombardy”).  He was awarded prestigious acknowledgements by the Milan provincial government, Italian government and the Fritz Schumacher Stiftung Foundation.

Renato Bazzoni died suddenly on 9 December 1996, still engaged in his many battles, leaving a moral testament that the FAI has adopted over the years since then.

MOTIVATION

Acting on the Jury’s unanimous indication, the Association’s Management Committee has assigned the 1990 “HONORIS CAUSA”; to Renato Bazzoni, an example of a life still actively committed to the defence and promotion of cultural and environmental values.

Photographer

 

Gianni Berengo Gardin was born at Santa Margherita Ligure in 1930, but grew up and studied in his home town of Venice.  He worked in the tourist trade in Rome, Switzerland, Paris and Venice, and finally settled in Milan in 1965.

His interest in photography dates back to 1954; he became a member of the famous photography club ‘La Gondola’ and was invited by Italo Zannier to join the ‘Gruppo Friulano per una Nuova Fotografia’. Later, he and his friends founded the photography group ‘Il Ponte’.

His amateur photography achieved great success and many of his shots were published in the catalogues of important exhibitions and in specialist journals throughout the world.

He turned to professional photography in 1962, and, as Cesare Colombo wrote: “After an initial period of obligatory eclecticism Berengo Gardin decided to renounce easy money and the jet set atmosphere linked to the profession of fashion and advertising photographer.  Rather, he dedicated his work entirely to reportages for several publishers and magazines, to photographic narrative as social investigation, documentation of architecture, and description of the environment, much less remunerative and not much appreciated by Italian publishers, but richer in creative independence and closer to his way of conceiving and living life.”

Berengo Gardin’s first reportages were published from 1954 to 1965 by the weekly ‘Il Mondo’, edited at that time by Mario Pannunzio, who was a life and photography mentor for Berengo Gardin. Since then he has worked for the main illustrated press in Italy and abroad and published over one hundred photographic books.  He continues regular work with the Italian Touring Club, for which he has published several volumes about Italian regions and cities, and diverse European countries.

His pictures are displayed in the collections of several museums and cultural foundations, such as the New York Museum of Modern Art, Parma University’s Communications Study Centre and Archives, the Paris National Library, UNO’s New York HQ, Eastman House, Rochester, Photokina Cologne, the Montreal Expo, the Bejing National Art and Aesthetics Gallery, and Pisa University Institute of the History of Art, to mention just some.

He has also held over 300 personal exhibitiions in Italy and abroad, the most recent of which in 2016 at the Rome PalaExpo.

Berengo Gardin has received numerous, prestigious awards, including the New York Lucie Award for his career, in acknowledgement of his merits as a photographer.

In May 2009 Milan State University awarded him an Honoris Causa degree in the History of Art Criticism.

MOTIVATION

“Acting upon the indication of the Jury, the Association’s Management Committee has awarded the 1989 HONORIS CAUSA to Gianni Berengo Gardin, master of photographic art and exploration in Italy and Europe, including his beautiful book “THE ISLANDS OF THE VENICE LAGOON – AN UNEXPLORED UNIVERSE”, published by L’Altra riva”

Historical Linguist

Giovan Battista Pellegrini was born at Cencenighe (Belluno) in 1921 and graduated in Italian Literature from Padua University in 1945, the following year specialising in Historial Linguistics.

From 1946 to 1963 he taught in the Universities of Pisa, Palermo and Trieste. In 1964 he returned to Padua University as full professor of historical linguistics, a position he held for many years, during which time he organised courses on the Comparative History of Classical Languages, Ladin Linguisitcs, Albanian Language and Literature.  He left teaching in November 1991.

He is a member of several Italian and foreign institutes and academies and has represented Italy at the International Onomastics Study Centre since 1960.  He became a correspondent member of the Florentine Accademia della Crusca in 1990.

Pellegrini has lectured and given talks in many conferences throughout Europe, in Italian universities and cultural centres and outside Europe at Beirut, Algeria, Tunisia and the US universities of Berkeley and Stanford.  He was Gastprofessor at Innsbruck for the 1978 summer term and Visiting Full-Professor at UCLA, Los Angeles, for the autumn quarter in 1979.  In his conferences, besides Italian he speaks French, German, English, Spanish, Serbo-Croat, Romanian, Hungarian and Albanian.

His vast scientific production includes approximately 700 publications, 25 of which almost entirely dedicated to historical-comparative linguistics, and some contributions to socio-linguistics and general phonetics.  His studies range from Italian dialects (particularly the Triveneto area), to Ladin and Friulano; from onomasiology to etymology; from Romansh linguistics – on which he has written three historical grammar books for ancient Spanish, Provencal and French – to studies on the hermeneutics of ancient Italian languages. He is a renowned specialist in Arab-Romansch linguistic relationships, Balkan and Danubian linguistics, toponomastics and anthroponymy.

The Friuli Historical-Linguistic-Ethnographical Atlas (ASLEF) was his idea and he directed and edited a large part of it.  He has also co-edited and edited other publications.

For the merits acquired in linguistic research he has received many acknowledgements and been awarded a number of prizes by institutions in his native territory.

Giovan Battista Pellegrini died at Padua on 3 February 2007.

MOTIVATION

The Committee and Jury of the Prize has assigned its Honoris Causa 1991 to Giovan Battista Pellegrini for his vast scientific production and his merits in linguistic studies and research.

Naturalist and Museologist

«Respect for Natura stems from knowledge and love.  My ‘scale’ of values regarding animals and Nature is this: knowledge, love and respect.  I am, if you will grant me the expression, ‘a religious naturalist’»

 

Sandro Ruffo was born at Soave (Verona) in 1915.  Since his childhood he was fascinated by the study of animals, particularly insects, and in 1938 he graduated in Agricultural Sciences from Bologna University with a dissertation on the biology of Coleoptera Chrysomelidae.

Called up in 1939, he was kept on at the beginning of the war and became an artillery officer.  The 1943 armistice found him in the south of France, where he was taken prisoner by the Germans and interned in lagers in Poland and Germany. He returned home in August 1945 and that same year was assigned the post of zoologist conservator of the Verona Civil Natural History Museum, of which he was appointed director in 1964. His task to rebuild the museum from the ruins of war was completed in 1965, when the public exhibition area was opened, completely renovated to modern naturalist museology criteria.

He alternated his museum activities with scientific research into three main streams: Italian fauna and zoogeography; biospeleology; systemic vision of two groups of animals: Amphipoda and Coleoptera Chrysomelidae.

Starting in 1950 in Apulia and the Tremiti Isles, his research continued for over twenty years in the main mountain ranges of the Appenines, Monti Sibillini and the Madonie in Sicily.  Information about fauna in the Appenines was still scarce and his work drew the attention of Italian and foreign zoologists.

Ruffo was particularly interested in studying animals living in caves (troglofauna), an environment that hosts a number of endemic species especially significant for interpreting the evolution and history of fauna. Studies of subterranean fauna were extended to include fauna living in the River Adige pore water, i.e. a group of minuscule animals that live in the interstices of river sediment.  During his investigations he discovered two orders of crustaceans previously unknown in Italy and in the second case in Europe.

His interest in Italian fauna encouraged him to revive the collection “Fauna d’Italia”, published by Calderini, whose Scientific Committee he chaired until 1991.

Ruffo dedicated over 120 papers to the Amphipoda, regarding different regions and environments: the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, Madagascar, the African Atlantic Coasts, north and central African internal waters, and the Antarctic Ocean.  During these studies he identified 24 new generi and 130 new species. In the Mediterranean he coordinated the activities of ten Italian and foreign zoologists, with whom he produced four volumes under the title B+The Amphipoda of the MediterraneanB;.

From the 1970s he began to take into consideration the problems arising from deteroriation of the environment: he took part in the C.N.R. project “Promotion of the Quality of the Environment”, editing the publication of 29 manuals in a series of his own creation “Guides for Recognising Animal Species in Italian Internal Waters”. Together with Campaioli, Ghetti and Minelli, he produced a practical manual for recognising macroinvertebrates in Italian fresh waters, which facilitated the use of these animals in drawing up Biotic Indices for water quality.

Because he strongly believed in the importance of scientific museums, Ruffo was one of the founding members and the first chairman of the National Association of Scientific Museums.  He always associated research activities with teaching, witness his renovation of the Verona Museum from a nineteenth century structure to a modern exhibition venue, and his many publications.

He has held numerous academic positions, was a committee member of the Italian Entomological Society and the Italian Zoological Union.  A member of the Lincei Academy, he also received several acknowledgements from national institutions, and was awarded a Laurea ad Honorem in Knowledge and Management of the Natural Heritage by Bologna University.

Sandro Ruffo died at Verona on 7 May 2010.

 

MOTIVATION

“The Association’s Management Committee, with the unanimous approval of the Jury, assigned its HONORIS CAUSA 1992 to Sandro Ruffo, former Director of the Verona Museum of Natural History, scholar, naturalist and museologist of international renown.”

Ethnologist, Orientalist and Alpinist

 

Born in Florence in 1912 to an Italian father and English mother, Fosco Maraini graduated in Natural Sciences in 1937, specialising in Anthropology; immediately after, he left for Tibet with the famous Orientalist Giuseppe Tucci, who he considered his mentor. In 1938 he was granted a scholarship to go to Japan as assistant professor at Hokkaido University (Sapporo).

Three years later, the tumult caused by the second World War prevented him from returning to Italy and he accepted a post as Italian reader at Kyoto University.  Because he refused to recognise the SalC2 Republic, from 1943 to 1945 he was incarcerated as an enemy by the Japanese authorities and confined to Tempaku concentration camp, together with his wife Topazia Alliata and his three daughters, Dacia, Yuki and Toni: he managed to return to Italy in 1946. Two years later he set off again for Tibet with Prof. Tucci. His encounter with Tibetan spirituality and traditions threw open the doors of Asia, the continent to which Fosco Maraini dedicated most of his life. Some years later he wrote about his experience in that classic of travel books ‘Secret Tibet’, presented in 1951, when occupation by Chinese troops was being completed.  The book, which was a best seller and translated into twelve languages, described a nation and a people frozen in a highly refined medieval civilisation, lacking the discoveries and instruments made available by science and technology, but which nonetheless lived a rich, satisfying life through its ancient religious, artistic, literary, theatrical and musical culture, until the upheaval caused by Chinese colonisation.

In 1953, Maraini returned to Japan, where he shot a series of important ethnographic documentaries, some of which have unfortunately been lost, and collected material to be used for the publication of three essential texts: Meeting Japan, 1956 (translated into five languages), L’isola delle Pescatrici, 1969 (translated into six languages) and the last one, Japan: Patterns of Continuity (1971), an illustrated monograph about Japan, reprinted countless times and translated into several languages. In recognition of his almost twenty years in the country, the Japanese government assigned its Star of the Order of the Rising Sun to Fosco Maraini and the Japan Foundation awarded him its prize for the diffusion of Japanese culture abroad.

In 1958 he took part, as a member of the Italian Alpine Club’s Academy (CAAI), in the Italian expedition to Gascherbrum IV (Karakorum), an extraordinary adventure he told in his book ‘G4, Karakorum’ (1960); the following year he directed another important expedition for the CAI, to the Saraghrar, Hindu-Kush, which he described in ‘Paropàmiso’.

In the following years Maraini divided his time between Japan, Italy and Asia.  He also lived many months at Jerusalem, where he wrote one of the most beautiful books ever on the city, ‘Jerusalem, Rock of Ages’, published by Harcourt Brace New York.

His experiences and studies are narrated in a host of internationally renowned books that consecrate an entire existence lived and observed through the curious, expert eyes of a photographer, ethnologist, poet, traveller and climber.

Almost forty years from the first publication, in 1998 he edited an updated edition of his best seller Secret Tibet, published by Corbaccio.  In this revised version, he included the images and text of the original, contextualised in the situation in our times, with all the historic, social and cultural implications.

In recent years, deeply struck by the Twin Towers carnage, he has been passionately studying the relationship between Islam and the West, re-considering his own encounter with the Muslim culture.

Fosco Maraini died in Florence on 8 June 2004.

MOTIVATION

“Outstanding witness to our times, distinguished Orientalist, ethnologist and anthropologist, gifted explorer, climber, photographer, internationally renowned writer, and a fascinated traveller in the remotest corners of the Earth, an adventurous spirit with a strong passion for discovery and learning about far-away cultures, rich in spiritual value from which he cleverly drew deeply, translating wonderful evocations into splendid works, featuring fresh and effective prose that generates intense emotions.

To mention just two: ‘Secret Tibet’, (1951), a classic of travel literature, translated into twelve languages and reproposed this year by Corbaccio as an updated edition; and ‘Meeting with Japan’ (1956), another exemplary work that records the twenty years of his life spent in that country.”

Environmentalist Association

The Worldwatch Institute, founded in 1974 by Lester Brown and financed by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund is a private not-for-profit organisation dedicated to research into global environmental issues.  In 1984, ten years from its foundation, Brown published the famous reports on the state of the world, annual analyses that became the ‘bible’ of the world environmental movement.  Translated into all the planet’s main languages, the State of the World publications achieved semi-official status.

Lester R. Brown, considered “one of the world’s most influential thinkers”, began his career growing tomatoes in southern New Jersey, together with his brother.  In 1955 he graduated in Agricultural Sciences from Rutgers University and moved to rural India for six months.

In 1959 he started work as an international analyst for the American Department of Agriculture, took a Master degree in Agricultural Economics at Maryland University and a Master in Public Administration at Harvard.  In 1964 he became an adviser on foreign agricultural policy to the US Secretary of Agriculture Orville Freeman.  Two years later the Secretary appointed him Administrator of the Department’s International Agricultural Development Service, but in 1969 he left government to help James Grant, a former UNICEF officer, in establishing the Overseas Development Council.

Since its foundation in 1974, the Worldwatch Institute has published articles, reviews, year books and books analysing world environmental issues, making the general public aware of the dramatic situation in our times.

Brown is the recipient of many prizes and awards, including 25 honorary degrees, a MacArthur Fellowship, the 1987 United Nations Environment Prize, the 1989 World Wide Fund for Nature Gold Medal, and the 1994 Blue Planet Prize for his “exceptional contributions to solving global environmental problems.” In 1998 he was included in the Audubon Society’s ‘100 Champions of Conservation’ and 2012 was inducted into the Kyoto Earth Hall of Fame.

MOTIVATION

“The Prize Jury and the Association’s Management Committee unanimously assigned the 1999 Honoris Causa to the Washington WORLDWATCH INSTITUTE, founded and run by Lester Brown, with the motivation: for the Earth’s punctual check-ups, published in the most qualified year book on the state of the environment worldwide, a tool for the scientific analysis necessary to redesign a new sustainable economy, used by teachers, economists and political leaders. We also applaud EDIZIONI AMBIENTE for publishing the Italian edition, edited by Gianfranco Bologna.”

Writer and Environmentalist

Kuki Gallmann was born at Treviso in 1943: she is the daughter of Cino Boccazzi, writer, doctor, explorer and archeologist from Treviso. After a short marriage in her youth, in 1970 she went to Kenya with her second husband, Paolo Gallmann, a Swiss agrarian with whom she shared a passion for Africa. Together they purchased a ranch at Ol Ari Nyiro, where they settled to live, in the county of Laikipia, a territory extending from Mount Kenya to the edge of the Rift Valley, for which Lord Delamere, an aristocratic English explorer in the early 1800s had a great love. Ol Ari Nyiro is a ranch covering 400 square kilometres, extending over hills, gorges and plains, famous for the many wild animals it is home to, and the variety of its landscapes, from savannah to woods, from forests to rocky mountains.

After the first years of life in Africa, happily discovering a new world, studying the animals and their habits and the indigenous people and their language, tragedy struck and she suffered greatly with the death of her husband in 1980, in a car accident on the Mombasa road, and then three years later of her son Emanuele, bitten by a puff adder. She found the courage to overcome her pain and decided to stay on in Africa, with her daughter Sveva, in the land to which her lost loved ones were so attached. She commemorated them by establishing the Gallmann Memorial Foundation to protect the natural environment and observe and preserve local traditions, seeking a balance with innovative methods. Ol Ari Nyiro is now an uncontaminated green belt in an increasingly concrete-encroached Africa, an oasis of vegetal and animal biodiversity (over 470 bird species and many other animals, some threatened by extinction, such as the black rhinoceros and the elephant); it is a place where botanists, ethnologists and zoologists, veterinary surgeons and herbalists can meet; it is a territory that preserves and promotes the cultural heritage and identity of the indigenous peoples through an art and crafts centre (where the traditional methods of processing hides, cotton, wool, coloured seeds, gourds, wood, tree bark and roots are handed down) and a small school to pass on knowledge of the traditional use of seeds, pods, tree bark and plants as herbal medicines.

For many years Kuki Gallmann has been bravely fighting illegal hunting and poaching, which in a situation of famine and poverty remains one of the easiest and most lucrative sources of income, despite laws and prohibitions. Hers is a battle for the conservation of the environment, the protection of wild animals, particularly elephants, and a sustainable system to hand down to future generations. She tells of her love for this land and her battles in her books ‘African Nights’, ‘The Colour of the Wind’, ‘Elephants in the Garden’ and ‘Night of the Lions’, and a book dedicated entirely to Kenya, ‘I Dreamed of Africa’, which in 1998 was made into a film of the same name, directed by Hugh Hudson and starring Kim Basinger and Vincent Perez.

In April 2017 she was seriously wounded in an ambush on her estate, which had become the epicentre of violent conflict between private land owners and the semi-nomad cattlemen who invade properties, destroying the environment to take possession of natural resources.

 

MOTIVATION

“The city of Treviso, Veneto, and Italy are proud to be the birthplace of Kuki Gallmann, whose origins gave her the essence of the spirit of love, intelligence and curiosity to open up to the world, with its natural wonders and culture. She has been put to the test by suffering and confrontations with local tribes, and has applied her tenacious will to respecting the Creation, putting down roots in Africa and showing an extraordinary ability to persist, with a generous spirit of adaptation to the advantage of the local and universal community.”

Brilliant writer, excellent naturalist, and courageous innovator, she has successfully united observance of traditions with the need to implement practical initiatives for education, creative crafts, traditional medicines, knowledge of and support for the environment. She was also inspired by the memory of her father Cino Boccazzi, who participated in all these experiences and shared Bepi Mazzotti’s friendship, company, daring, love of beauty and fascination with research.

On the occasion of the XXXV edition of the GAMBRINUS GIUSEPPE MAZZOTTI PRIZE, the Management Committee of the Giuseppe Mazzotti Literary Prize Association, with the unanimous approval of the Jury of the GAMBRINUS GIUSEPPE MAZZOTTI PRIZE, conferred on Kuki Gallmann its 2017 Honoris Causa for her tenacious, untiring and corageous committment and the many initiatives and activites of the Gallmann Memorial Foundation she established to protect the natural environment on her vast Ol Ari Nyiro ranch in the county of Laikipia, and the local communities.”