While I was in Washington DC at National Geographic’s Big Cats conference, an announcement was made that Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, died. at age 71. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations said in a statement published on the UN website that Maathai was a “globally recognized champion for human rights and women’s empowerment” and a “pioneer in articulating the links between human rights, poverty, environmental protection and security.” It is ironic that she should die during the conference dedicated to saving the Big Cats of our planet. So much of their survival is linked to human rights, economics, poverty, environmental protection and security. A few hours after Wangari’s death was announced, one of the presenters, Paula Kahumbu, said that her mother sent her a video clip from her home in Kenya. We were shown this video at the conference. Check it out and share. Nobel Peace Prize In 2004 the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to Maathai for her contribution to sustainable development, peace, and democracy. Wangari Maathai’s philosophy resonates loud and clear when considering the plight of the Big Cats. Here is a quote from the Nobel Committee: “Peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment. Maathai stands at the front of the fight to promote ecologically viable social, economic and cultural development in Kenya and in Africa. She has taken a holistic approach to sustainable development that embraces democracy, human rights and women’s rights in particular. She thinks globally and acts locally,” the Committee said when it announced its decision to award her the Nobel Peace Prize. “Maathai combines science, social commitment and active politics. More than simply protecting the existing environment, her strategy is to secure and strengthen the very basis for ecologically sustainable development,” the Committee added.