Conservationist, poet Nugzar Zazanashvili dies aged 64

Zazanashvili has been praised for his work for conservation in the Caucasus while also having his poetry published in Georgia and translated into English. Photo via Georgian Public Broadcaster., 10 May 2021 - 20:08, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian geographer, conservationist and poet Nugzar Zazanashvili, co-founder of the World Wildlife Fund's work in the Caucasus region and a published poet of the Georgian literary scene, has died at the age of 64.

Hailed both as a "true champion of nature conservation" by WWF Georgia and acclaimed by literary critics and fellow poets, Zazanashvili died on Monday, with tributes from environmental groups and the literary field following the news.

WWF Caucasus Programme Office extended its condolences by celebrating an "extraordinary person" for "inestimable efforts to protect nature" and "tireless" work for conservation in the Caucasus.

His strong devotion, resilience and commitment to nature conservation will be missed, but his words, his poetry and his voice will pave the way for future generations to continue his legacy and will forever remain in the nature of the Caucasus and in our memory

- WWF Georgia

Born in 1957, Zazanashvili graduated from Tbilisi State University Faculty of Geography and Geology in 1980 before starting work at the Institute of Botany at the Academy of Sciences of Georgia.

Joining the Caucasus office of World Wildlife Fund in 1993, he led the Conservation Programme as director and coordinated and carried out projects for development of the system of protected areas, species conservation and sustainable use of biological resources.

Zazanashvili received the title of Associated Professor of Ilia State University in 2008, with the body of his scientific work including over 60 publications on landscape ecology, biogeography, plant ecology, cartography and more.

On the literary side of his creativity, Zazanashvili's collection of poems Clockwork Grand Piano was published in 2016 by Diogene, while some of his poetry was translated into English by Donald Rayfield, Emeritus Professor of Russian and Georgian at Queen Mary University of London.

Zazanashvili also authored poetry collections including These Are the Times (1998) and From Letters Unsent, the latter nominated for the 2006 Saba Literary Prize.