EJN partner Oxpeckers wins CNN Multichoice African Journalist Award

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Earth Journalism Network, Johannesburg, South Africa

Oxpeckers, an EJN partner network that focuses on wildlife trafficking, won the Environment Award at the prestigious CNN Multichoice African Journalist Awards in October 2016.

Oxpeckers editor Fiona Macleod and Namibian associate John Grobler won the award for a 10-month-long investigation that uncovered political and commercial agendas driving the world’s largest black rhino population towards extinction.

The judging panel singled out the article “Caught in the crossfire: how cattle and Chinese mining interests are killing off Nambia’s black rhinos” as the winning entry from a body of work into Namibian poaching links.

The judges described the article as “a swashbuckling tale”, “comprehensive”, and “a very complex story, brilliantly written”. A short video outlines their work and reactions from the judging panel. 

The ongoing Namibian investigations have seen Oxpeckers collaborate with three Chinese journalists to produce in-depth transnational exposés on rhino and elephant poaching in Namibia. They uncovered Asian syndicates operating on the ground in Namibia, and then tracked their links back to China and Vietnam.

This body of work was recognised in China earlier this year, when Oxpeckers associate Shi Yi won the coveted Journalist of the Year Award at the 2016 China Environmental Press Awards. Shi Yi spent three months in Southern Africa working with Macleod and Grobler to expose rhino horn and ivory trafficking links.

A third member of the Oxpeckers network was short-listed for the 2016 CNN awards. Lawrence Seretse, an investigative journalist based in Botswana who assists Oxpeckers with investigations into environmental and wildlife problems in the region, was a finalist in the News Impact category for a year-long investigation into tax havens used by Wilderness Safaris, published by The Boswana Gazette in 2015.

The annual CNN MultiChoice African Journalist competition is the most prestigious and respected award for journalists across the African continent. This year the competition received more than 1,600 entries – a record number – from 38 countries across the continent. There were 38 finalists, whose details can be found here.