The Whitley Awards – which carries a cash prize of £35,000 and is dubbed the ‘Green Oscar’ –has been conferred upon two Indians who have done stellar work in protecting and preserving the wildlife.
One of the winners, Dr Ananda Kumar, a conservationist, was recognized for successfully formulating a new technique through which he managed to use progressive communication models enabling peaceful human-elephant coexistence in South India. The technique has been hailed for its novelty and pragmatic approach. For the record each year in India, more than 400 people and over 100 elephants lose their lives to human-elephant conflicts.
Ananda Kumar, India – Whitley Awards 2015
Ananda Kumar’s speech at the 2015 Whitley Awards
The technique basically uses a SMS system –known as Elephant Information Network (EIN) –which warns residents if there is any elephant nearby; it is really useful when it is dark and it is difficult to make out whether it is a big rock, an elephant, or some other animal in front of you.
Normally elephants are peaceful, but if they are startled or feel threatened, they can be your worst enemy. In the Valparai plateau (a region in South India) alone, 41 people have lost their lives to elephant attacks. Most of these incidents have happened because the victim was unaware that there was an elephant nearby.
The other winner of the prestigious award is Dr Pramod Patil, who has been the guardian angel for the critically endangered Indian bustard. A physician by profession, Dr Pramod worked tirelessly in the Thar Desert to protect this wonderful bird.
Pramod Patil, India – Whitley Awards 2015
Pramod Patil’s speech at the 2015 Whitley Awards
He got inspiration to take up conservation after falling in love with the bird after sighting it for the first time in 2003 and coming to know about its status. He gave up his earlier profession and became a full-time conservationist.
Creating a smooth communication network with various communities within the Thar Desert and the State Forest Department, Dr Pramod along with his dedicated team has been carrying out a number of events to raise awareness about the status of the bird and the need to protect it. The physician effortlessly juggled as a mediator between the various stakeholders while building constructive relationships.
Some of his important works include collecting valuable information about the species and putting in place anti-poaching measures.
It is a matter of great pride that out of the seven conservationists that have been selected for the Whitley Awards 2015, two are Indians. The award function, which was hosted by TV personality and naturalist Kate Humble, was held at Royal Geographical Society, London.
We from Tour My India would like to extend congratulations to both the winners and pray that they would continue to serve wildlife with the same zeal in times to come. Hurray!!