The Frankfurt Zoological Society would like to express its sincere condolences to the family and friends of Benjamín Rodríguez Grandez, Indigenous leader and advocate for Yaguas National Park, who sadly passed away in July 2020 due to COVID-19.
In memory of Benjamín Rodríguez Grandez
Benjamín was one of the foremost defenders of indigenous rights and environmental protection in Peru and president of the Federation of Native Border Communities of Putumayo. One of his many lifetime achievements involved working with local indigenous communities to make Yaguas Reserved Zone into a National Park. The area, located in northern Peru, close to the Colombian border, is home to several indigenous communities and harbors some of the highest biodiversity in the country such as river dolphins, giant otters, and more.
Labeling the area as a National Park was critical to save it for the indigenous communities, who considered it their life insurance, and to protect it from illegal logging and mining. However, due to protests from the opposition, obtaining the status was a challenging and at times dangerous process. Despite this, in 2018 the bravery, hard work, and dedication of Benjamín and his team paid off, the status was granted.
We were delighted to have met this inspirational man when he traveled to Bonn, Germany, in 2017 to speak at the COP 23 climate conference about Yaguas. Now we are proud to be involved in this project, and we will be sure to continue protecting this legacy that Benjamín started, long into the future.
The FZS team
Header photo © Daniel Rosengren