Two wildlife conservationists from India, Sanjay Gubbi of Karnataka and Purnima Barman of Assam are among the six winners of this year’s prestigious Whitley Awards, which are popularly referred to as ‘Green Oscars’.
- The winners of Whitley Awards were felicitated at a special ceremony at the Royal Geographic Society in London. They received the award from Princess Anne (daughter of Queen Elizabeth II), The Princess Royal.
Sanjay Gubbi’s contribution to Wildlife Conservation:
Gubbi has been awarded for his work to protect tiger corridors in Karnataka.He is a wildlife biologist and scientist with the Mysuru-based Nature Conservation Foundation. He is also a member of the State Board for Wildlife.
- Gubbi works with authorities and stakeholders to secure and connect tiger habitat. On account of his persistent efforts, in 2012, he played an instrumental role in increasing the size of protected areas in Karnataka by 37% and enhancing connectivity across 23 sites. This is regarded as largest expansion of protected areas in India since 1970.
- Gubbi will utilise the proceeds from the Whitley Award to reduce deforestation in two wildlife sanctuaries, which connect several protected areas and act as a corridor for tigers.
- He will make efforts to expedite compensation payments to farmers who have lost livestock on account of tiger attacks. This gesture will garner support of conservation from those living alongside wildlife.
Purnima Barman’s contribution to Wildlife Conservation:
Assam’s 37-year-old Barman has been awarded for creating an all-female network to save the Greater Adjutant stork and its wetland habitat in Assam. Greater Adjutant stork is known as Hargila in India.
- Barman developed an inclination towards this project while she worked on her PhD in Kamrup district of Assam.
- Barmans’ all- female local network which has been mobilised through her NGO Aaranyak, works towards sustainable livelihoods through weaving traditional Assamese scarves and saris that are then sold to raise funds for the conservation project.
About Whitley Awards:
Instituted in year 1994 by Edward Whitley, these awards are conferred annually by the K.-registered charity, Whitley Fund for Nature.
- The award honors outstanding contribution towards wildlife conservation outside the developed world.
- Each winner receives 35,000 pounds prize money in project funding over one year. The winners also receive professional communications training to transform from scientists into ambassadors.