There are only about 2,500 tigers left in the wild. Most of them live in India. To save this species from extinction, India must conserve tiger habitat and prey from the population explosion and urban sprawl. Tigers have killed a handful of people just in the past few weeks due to drought and hunger forcing them closer to villages and cities to survive.
WWF-India and the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) announced the awardees of the WWF-PATA Bagh Mitra Awards 2013 for outstanding contributions by individuals and organizations towards tiger conservation in India, in an awards ceremony conducted at the WWF-India Secretariat. Instituted jointly by WWF-India and the PATA, the WWF- PATA Bagh Mitra Awards are a celebration of India’s wild tigers and the incredible efforts to protect and conserve them for future generations. For over a decade, the Awards have recognized exceptional contributions by organizations and individuals in conserving tigers and their habitats across the length and breadth of the country, by the Forest Department and other government department officials, management of Tiger Reserves and other organizations.
This year’s awardees are Mr. Daulat Singh Shekawat and Dr. Rajiv K.Srivastava for individual contributions and the Forest Development Agency (FDA), Parambikulam, Kerala for institutional contributions towards tiger conservation.
Mr. Daulat Singh Shekawat, Assistant Conservator of Forests, Ranthambore Tiger Reserve has made critical contributions in management of human-wildlife conflict and rescuing large cats involved in conflict situations in and around important Protected Areas in Rajasthan, including the iconic Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, Sariska Tiger Reserve and Keoladeo National Park, with over 34 years of dedicated service.“This award is an inspiration and will provide confidence, enthusiasm and motivation to do more for tiger conservation”, he said.
Dr. Rajiv K. Srivastava, an Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer, implemented several key measures to conserve the population of tigers and its habitat in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu, from April 2008 to August 2011. He has also implemented innovative measures to manage human-elephant and human-carnivore conflict around the Tiger Reserve. Currently, the Field Director of the Annamalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu, he shared his reaction on receiving the award, “It is a proud moment for me and my team to receive this award. This award will motivate me to work harder and involve more people in the cause of tiger conservation.”
The FDA has played a key role since its inception in ensuring that the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve (PKMTR) has moved towards a people-inclusive management system, with inclusive development as one of its main objectives. The organization has ensured that the reserve acts as a direct source of livelihood to a large number of entirely forest-dependent communities and incentivizes them to participate in conservation.
The FDA has also been instrumental in developing crucial sustainable resource-use practices and achieving convergence and harmony between various conservation-focused and human rights-focused legislations such as the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and the Forest Rights Act, 2006. The organization has also made significant contributions in managing human-tiger conflict around the reserve and generating public awareness on issues related to tiger conservation. Accepting the award on behalf of FDA, Mr. K. Vijayananthan, IFS and Deputy Director, Parambikulam Tiger Reserve and Chief Executive Officer, FDA Parambikulam, said, “This is a proud moment for our communities and team and a big achievement for us. This is also a recognition of the success of our people-inclusive management system.”
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Ravi Singh, Secretary General and CEO, WWF-India said, “The WWF-PATA Bagh Mitra Awards are a celebration of the extraordinary contribution made by people and institutions in the field of tiger conservation over a number of years.