Dr. Kouadio’s quiet demeanor belied the deep conviction and passion he had for the protection of manatees and Ivorian wildlife and forests.
Dr. Kouadio spent more than 30 years of his life working principally on West African manatee research, education and conservation. He was highly regarded as one of the world’s foremost experts on West African manatees.
The son of a cocoa farmer, Dr. Kouadio began his conservation efforts as a young Officer of the Ivorian Ministry of Water and Forests serving as assistant director of the Azagny National Park. After four years at the Azagny Park, Dr. Kouadio chose to pursue his true love and passion: the conservation of manatees.
Beginning in January of 1989, Dr. Kouadio developed the Wildlife Conservation Society’s West African Manatee Conservation and Education Project in the coastal lagoons of Côte D’Ivoire close to Azagny. During the course of the next several years, he conducted research and worked closely with leading experts to develop a
manatee conservation project, including the establishment of an educational program for the local fishing communities and sponsoring story-telling competitions and inspiring nature clubs. His work also continued in Azagny National Park, which includes important populations of elephants, West African chimpanzees and
Since July 2003, Dr. Kouadio acted as Coordinator of WCS’s Coastal Wetland and Biodiversity Conservation Project, based in Côte D’Ivoire. While managing this project, Dr. Kouadio was awarded his PhD in 2004 from the University of Kent, UK. He remained as Coordinator until his death.
Dr. Kouadio’s work with West African manatees was one of the few bright spots for this creature. WCS is deeply concerned that this already vulnerable species is close to being eradicated from much of its range throughout West Africa. The loss of Dr. Kouadio means the manatees have lost a true champion and someone who was able to develop solutions to the many threats the manatees face in the region jeopardizing their longterm survival.
Many of Dr. Kouadio’s colleagues recall his truly remarkable ability to create bonds and build friendships across cultures and communities. They say this trust and respect made Dr. Kouadio a powerful and very effective environmental teacher and conservationist. “A truly dedicated individual, and a champion of conservation, Dr. Kouadio will be missed tremendously,” says John Robinson, the Executive Vice President for Conservation and Science at the Wildlife Conservation Society. “Dr. Kouadio’s death creates a void in the sphere of conservation of aquatic mammals, especially the West African manatee. The commitment he showed to conservation is unmatchable. The Wildlife Conservation Society has lost a great colleague.”
Dr. Kouadio died at age 47. He is survived by his wife, Mme. Akoi Kouadio née Ahou Juliette and daughter, Marguerite Akoi.
Special Note – WCS would be glad to facilitate private donations to the family of Dr. Akoi Kouadio in Côte D’Ivoire to help them through this difficult time.
To make a donation by check, please contact Amy Pokempner at firstname.lastname@example.org for details. Please include in your email to Amy the subject line “Akoi Kouadio Family Fund”. Please remember that, in accordance with the requirements of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, any such donation would not be tax deductible to a U.S. taxpayer.
Editor’s Note – Akoi and I met in 1986 when I began a research project on West African manatees in Côte d’Ivoire. He and I worked closely together for three years. During that time, his passion for manatees grew and his commitment as a conservation biologist strengthened. Akoi was my colleague, friend, teacher, translator and doctor during those years living in the bush of West Africa. I shall forever be grateful to him. I will remember Akoi as one of the most gentle, kind, considerate and dedicated individuals I have ever met.