Mongabay Latam and its partners at the major Bolivian daily newspaper El Deber have won the El Rey Award, also known as the King of Spain International Journalism Award. A top prize recognizing the best in Spanish and Portuguese-language journalism in Ibero-America since 1983, the awards are announced annually by Agencia EFE and the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development. The Mongababy-El Deber team was recognized for Roberto Navia Gabriel’s investigative report on illegal trafficking in jaguar fangs, which was produced and published by both media outlets.
When the reporter first learned of jaguars being killed for their fangs, it felt like a horror novel: “It seemed to me that it was a topic that journalism definitely had to address so that people in power [would] hear about it [and] look for a solution,” Navia Gabriel said. “Unfortunately, it is true that [Chinese citizens] are pulling fangs out of jaguars. They are selling them in China and other Asian markets at prices as high as gold or cocaine, exorbitant prices. I discovered that it was not isolated hunting, but a mafia who is entering this area and is earning thousands or maybe millions of dollars, that was a sad finding.”
“For me the award means a big boost, something that makes me see that I was not wrong, that it was worthy to investigate,” continued Navia Gabriel. “And also, to establish a relationship with Mongabay has been terrific. This work wouldn’t have been possible without the important support of Mongabay, at a time when it is more difficult to do investigative journalism because there is a big lack of resources and time, so I’m grateful to El Deber, to Mongabay, to all the team that has been part of this great project,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of Mongabay Latam, María Isabel Torres, Program Manager for the Lima-based Spanish language bureau of Mongabay.com, said, “At Mongabay Latam we believe that [it] is key to promote collaborative alliances between journalists and other media in different countries, not only to integrate resources and capabilities, but also to broaden the impact of our stories. Our partnership with El Deber is a great example of that.”
Agreeing with Torres, Navia Gabriel‘s editor at Mongabay Latam, Alexa Eunoé Vélez Zuazo, said, “The award confirms how powerful and necessary alliances [are] between the media in Latin America [and] among journalists to unveil issues of great relevance, and put them on the radar of the authorities. Mongabay Latam has followed the problem of jaguar trafficking in Bolivia since the first complaints began in 2016, but it was with El Deber that we worked on the first special stories.” Of Roberto Navia Gabriel and the whole team, she said that he “did an excellent job of coverage and writing and Nelfi Fernández and a team of experts at the newspaper impeccably designed a multimedia feature with text, maps, photographs and videos. This year, Mongabay Latam and El Deber will continue making visible environmental issues that are very rarely addressed by the other media,” she continued.
“It is a great honor for Mongabay-Latam to win this award,” said Rhett A. Butler, Mongabay’s Founder and CEO. “We congratulate Roberto Navia Gabriel for his fine work in exposing this critical issue. Jaguar poaching is a growing problem across Latin America.”
Read all of Roberto Navia Gabriel’s articles for Mongabay Latam in Spanish here.