Two Indians worked silently for years and won an ‘Oscar’
Dubbed as the ‘Green Oscar,’ Whitely awards are honoured to people for their outstanding nature conservation efforts. This year, among the seven grassroots conservationists from across the globe who were awarded, were two Indians – Dr Ananda Kumar and Dr Pramod Pati.
Dr Ananda Kumar
Dr Ananda Kuman was awarded for his work on an SMS warning system to help workers live safely among elephants.
India is not new to man-animal conflict. And, with shrinking forest cover, wild animals are forced to venture into the outskirts of villages and settlements. That is the story of elephants in the Western Ghats of India.
Today in the Anaimalai hills, 221 sq km of plantations were once rich rain forests. These plantations now provide livelihood to over 70,000 workers and the region is now their home. And, thus the elephants which inhabit the hills are forced to use the plantations as a pathway to get to other parts of the rainforest.
Dr Ananda Kumar’s approach to address the elephant-human conflict was developing an Elephant Information Network (EIN) which acts as an early warning mechanism, alerting people about the elephants and minimising negative human-elephant interactions.
How it works
The conflict response team who are a team of trackers keep a continuous watch over the elephant movements and are in constant touch with the forest department workers and local informants. This information is then relayed via a hotline. Text messages are also sent to those who reside in the vicinity where the elephant was spotted. The information is also communicated to the volunteer wardens.
This information helps people to be prepared and plan accordingly, thus reducing conflict and helps them embrace the philosophy of living with the elephants.
Dr Pramod Pati
The Great Indian Bustard, one among the heaviest of the flying birds, were once common on the dry plains of the Indian subcontinent. But today, due to poaching and loss of habitat, a hardly a few hundreds survive.
Dr Pamond Pati, a doctor by profession, gave up his profession and decided to devote his time and energy towards the conservation of the Great Indian Bustard.
How it works
By collecting crucial information about the species, he helps the local communities in the Thar Desert understand the significance of conversation and mobilises them to get involved in anti-poaching activities.
Collaborating with the communities, the forest departments, and Bombay Natural History Society, he is helping people forge positive relationship between authorities and local people and thereby enable better management of the land on which both community livelihoods and bustards depend on.
About Whitely Awards
The Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN) offers awards and grants to outstanding nature conservationists around the world. Whitley Awards are worth £35,000 GBP in conservation funding to be spent on projects over a period of one year.
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