Wildlife Awards 2019 salutes Earth Heroes and Nature Defenders 

New Delhi: The Sanctuary Nature Foundation, will present the 20th Sanctuary Wildlife Awards supported by DSP Mutual Fund and IndusInd Bank and co-sponsored by GreenKo, at the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) in Mumbai.

The Sanctuary Wildlife Awards were instituted in the year 2000 to recognise Earth Heroes, to shine a light on their work and express gratitude for their selfless work.

These superheroes come in different avatars – forest officials, policy influencers, lawyers, writers, educationists, activists, scientists, orators, artists and children. These are nature’s spokespersons who are determined and committed to making their dreams come true, of leaving behind a planet that someday will not need protection from our own kind.

In their 20th year, the Sanctuary Wildlife Awards have become more relevant than ever before because across the world the realisation has dawned that the economies and the existence of humans is dependent on our ability to protect the Earth’s threatened biosphere.

A look at this year’s winners:

Lifetime Service Award: (An individual who has spent his or her life in the joyful defense of wild nature – doyens in whose footsteps the next generation can find an ounce of reassurance and a tonne of inspiration.) Vinod Rishi, Dehradun – Wildlife warrior, anti-poaching strategist, climate specialist, former Additional Director General of Forests (Wildlife). After 37 years working for the Indian Forest Service his passion has only grown stronger. One amongst the old guard of India’s wildlife conservation movement, his contribution to India’s natural heritage spans parks, states and disciplines.

Young Naturalist Awards: (Next-generation green warriors who are shattering glass ceilings, creating fresh solutions and challenging the status quo.)

− Nehara Pandey, Goa – School student, scuba diver, marine activist and conservation communicator. She is a 17-year old ocean connoisseur from Goa, who, through creative short

films, body art and her schools’ Nature Club, is actively spreading her love for marine ecosystems to her peers

– Taukeer Alam, Uttarakhand – Self-taught bird expert, trekker, citizen scientist and Gujjar community representative. A child of the nomadic Van Gujjar community. Now a field assistant with the Nature Science Initiative, Dehradun, Taukeer Alam shares his immense knowledge of avian species with birdwatchers who visit the state from across the globe.

Green Teacher Award: (An inspiring individual with missionary zeal and a proven environmental track record, who sets an example for other educators to follow.)

Laxmi Maravi, Madhya Pradesh – Forest guard, environmental educator, anti-poaching squad member and community collaborator. A forest guard from the Kanha National Park with an abiding love for young children, who she believes are the most effective ambassadors for tomorrow.

Wildlife Service Awards: (Outstanding individuals involved with in situ nature conservation, who have displayed extraordinary courage, dedication and determination.)

– Abhijit Rabha, Assam – Senior Forest Officer, anti-insurgency specialist, wildlife defender and inspiring leader. A member of Assam’s indigenous Rabha community, Abhijit Rabha is a career Indian Forest Service officer, currently serving as Special Principal Conservator of Forests at the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council.

– Arun Prasad, Uttarakhand – Livelihoods creator, Pahadi protector, community tourism advocate and traditional beekeeping trainer. Founder of the Devalsari Samiti, 29-year-old Arun has created an eco-tourism model to benefit both people and the forest.

– Chandni Gurusrikar, Karnataka – Cauvery forest and river guardian, community champion, wildlife conservationist and academic coordinator. For over a decade, with her husband, Ashwin, and a team of urban and rural volunteers from their Vanodaya Wildlife Trust, she has worked with the Karnataka Forest Department to mitigate human-elephant conflict, locate and deactivate snares and conduct anti-poaching patrols in Karnataka’s biodiversity-rich Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary.

– Debadityo Sinha, Uttar Pradesh – Zoologist, writer and researcher, Green Tribunal litigant and conservation campaigner. He strives for the protection of little known wildernesses in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Having set up the Vindhyan Ecology and Natural History Foundation, Debadityo Sinha actively litigates for environmental justice at the National Green Tribunal.

– Kheer Babu Pardhi and Mahila Bai Pardhi – Community pioneer, next generation nurturers, forest defenders and wildlife protectors. Amongst the first to publicly give up hunting, the duo are caregivers to dozens of school going Pardhi children.

Bittu Sahgal (Founder and Editor, Sanctuary Asia): “Gone are the days when those protecting wild species and ecosystems had to justify the reason for doing what they do. Today mounting evidence from over 1,200 globally respected scientists makes it clear that unless we protect the biodiversity that controls the carbon cycle we have no hope at all of dealing with the climate crisis that has begun to overwhelm us. The women and men we honour with the Sanctuary Wildlife Awards are nation builders in every sense of the word. They are the heroes we want young India to look up to. They will be recognised as freedom fighters who saved our world from ourselves for generations to come.”

Hemendra Kothari (Chairman, DSP Investment Managers Pvt. Ltd.): “DSP is happy to support the Sanctuary Wildlife Service Awards to recognise the foot soldiers working on the ground to protect our forests and ecosystems. This is also the quickest, most economical way to tackle our climate crisis, by creating large scale jobs and livelihoods to restore degraded forests, large dam catchments and other natural ecosystems. A key collateral benefit will be enhanced water security, reduced floods and droughts, and the sequestration of atmospheric carbon. Needless to add, this will also boost our economy, and help regenerate our precious biodiversity.”

Anil Ghelani (SVP and Head – Passive Investments, DSP Investment Managers Pvt. Ltd.): “Today, responsible companies around the world have become aware of the need to conserve nature and are conscious about how their actions and way of doing business impacts the environment. The Sanctuary Awards recognises and encourages the work done in this area which acts as a motivation and a reminder to continue contributing more and to #DoGoodBeGood !.”

Romesh Sobti (Managing Director and CEO, IndusInd Bank): “Climatic stability and conservation of natural resources has become a top priority for nations across the globe. It is therefore important that the silent protectors of our environmental ecosystem are recognised in order to further encourage them in their journey. In keeping with this vision, IndusInd Bank, is proud to partner with the Sanctuary Nature Foundation to propagate the cause of sustainability, both within our organisation as well as outside. The Bank is also deeply committed to the equitable distribution of resources; and we believe, one of the best ways to achieve this vital objective, across society, is to improve the quality of our air, water and land. I have been associated with the Sanctuary Nature Foundation for more than two decades, and look forward to supporting them in their quest towards recognizing as well as rewarding the heroes of our planet, who will play a crucial role in creating a better tomorrow.”

Mr. Paul Abraham, (Chief Operating Officer, IndusInd Bank) “At IndusInd Bank, it is always our endeavour to support initiatives that celebrate nature and its resources, especially water. Water is fundamental to our global economy and companies across the globe are taking note of it. IndusInd Bank recognizes this, and is committed to making significant efforts in the area of Water Stewardship across rural and urban India. Our association with Sanctuary Nature Foundation is a testimony to this commitment, as it works with individuals who undertake path-breaking activities, year after year with a strong conviction towards conserving Mother Earth. It is essential to shine a light on our unsung heroes and help them create a cleaner and greener environment to breath in. We strongly believe that through such collaborations, IndusInd Bank celebrates nature; and going forward, we intend to pool the energies and hearts of our entire staff behind the mission to make this planet a safer, happier place to reside.”

Mahesh Kolli (Founder and President, Greenko Group): “Greenko, takes great pride in associating with The Sanctuary Wildlife Awards, which recognises and applauds the unsung heroes of nature. Environment sustainability is a key factor in all operations of Greenko By working towards the betterment of natural resources, forests, environment and the economy, we want to show that “it’s possible” to contribute towards a greener future.”