September 30, 2021 — Today the Jackson Wild Media Awards announced their awards and named “Guardians of the River” this year’s winner in the Podcast Category.
The submissions included over 750 entries from more than 30 countries. “Guardians of the River” was selected for its message of conservation and environmental importance and the way it encourages listeners to explore and appreciate the natural world in a new way.
From creator and National Geographic Explorer Catherine de Medici Jaffee, in collaboration with the National Geographic Society, the Wild Bird Trust and House of Pod, “Guardians of the River” follows the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project team as they journey along the Okavango River Basin that spans Angola, Namibia and Botswana on a mission to protect this near pristine landscape from increasing threats. All episodes are now available to stream on The Wild Bird Trust’s website or from other major audio streaming services.
In response to today’s announcement the team behind the podcast issued the following statements:
Cat Jaffee, Creator of “Guardians of the River” and National Geographic Explorer, said:
“Producing Guardians of the River has been a significant labor of love for every person involved – from the soulful music composed by Victor Gama to feature the sounds of local communities and traditional Angolan instruments, to the way our cover art illustrated by Fernande Hugo Fernandes incorporates river folklore that purportedly cannot be seen with human eyes.
It’s become rarer and rarer in the media to know this much heart behind the scenes of making a thing. But we are in good company in the Jackson Wild community, where a passion for people and the environment reins. It is an overwhelming honor to receive this award, and we are grateful to every person, creature, and contributor who helped to make this show a reality.”
Kerllen Costa, Guardians of the River narrator and National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project Angolan Country Director, said:
“Five years of forest and river exploration and the most intrinsic human connections that Mother Nature channels through its energies, have resulted in the most profound absorption of the knowledge and traditions, religion and beliefs and, above all, the true concept of conservation by the real people who have protected Lisima for many generations—the true Guardians of the River and all elements deeply dependent on that.
A year and a half of capturing the daily social and landscape dynamics of Lisima, and countless days of recording, story writing, editing with the most incredible team, resulted exactly in what the essence of this work should be: not to just tell the stories of the people, but to document their voices and help advocate for fair opportunities and protection of what is their natural heritage and lifeline.”
Thalefang Charles, renowned photographer and travel writer from Botswana
“For many years the Okavango River basin has been about the beautiful wilderness, but Guardians of the River for the first time, gives a voice to the people of the Okavango River basin, who call this wilderness home. From Cuito to Boteti, these are humans that live among the wildlife. It has been an honour to hear and tell their story and it gives me hope that the Jackson Wild Award will help us tell the world their unique story.”
Dr. Steve Boyes, National Geographic Fellow and Okavango Wilderness Project team leader, said:
“Making Guardians of the River gave us an opportunity to reflect, align and come together. It became a labour of love for so many.
I was so inspired by Cat Jaffee’s proposal that I stayed up until 2am helping her write her National Geographic Storytelling grant proposal the night before submission. Our film didn’t explain exactly what we are actually doing in the Okavango Basin beyond exploration and I wanted Cat to tell that story, and, oh wow, did she!”
Koketso Mookodi, Guardians of the River narrator and National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project Botswana Country Director, said:
“Congratulations to this well-deserving team for their dedication to telling the important stories of conservation.This has been an amazing experience in bringing storytelling to life.”
Having an opportunity to share with the rest of the world what has been my passion for the past 18 years, is a major honour. This momentous occasion is a reflection of many years of hard work. Thank you, Cat Jaffee, for listening and making sense of it all. Thank you to my NGOWP team for the continuous inspiration and powerful motivation.
Since 2015, the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project has been surveying and collecting scientific data on the Okavango River system and working with local communities; NGOs; and the governments of Angola, Namibia, and Botswana to secure permanent, sustainable protection for the greater Okavango River Basin.