We sorrow for Olaf Grell, who died unexpectedly at the age of 62 during a walk on the beach due to heart failure. Olaf had been a friend of our foundation for many years before he asked us about a year ago to support him in his preparations for a marine reserve in Côte d'Ivoire. He was enthusiastic about the diverse fauna along the coast and the local culture. In particular, the sea turtles spawning there were close to his heart and from the observation that their nests are often robbed for very small profits, a first small aid initiative with local activists, "CEM", arose. Soon Olaf brought his biologist friends with him to explore the Gran Bereby region more thoroughly and the first plans for the establishment of a marine reserve were drawn up, which already met with the open ears of the national decision-makers responsible.
The integration of these previously private activities by Olaf Grell into our foundation at the end of 2018 enabled two further project trips and was intended to provide technical support for the efforts of the Ivorian "Abidjan Convention" to establish four more marine protected areas. As a long-term perspective, we envisioned the establishment of a large biosphere reserve comprising all five marine protected areas.
This was Olaf's strength, which, in addition to his great expertise, convinced us to "be" involved in a completely new project area for the foundation: Olaf had a special gift for perceiving other people, listening to them, sharing thoughts and also caring and looking for solutions to problems. He imparted a special devotion, not only in direct contact, but also in the way he spoke about others and reflected on their life situations. He was a more questioning than judgmental person. We trusted him to help Côte d'Ivoire protect nature in a sustainable way that involves the local people and does not exclude them. Now it is up to us and Olaf's many friends, whom he has included in his vision, to bring his cause to a good conclusion.