Heroes of environment and wildlife conservation conferred with RBS Earth Heroes Awards for 2014

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India CSR News Network

NEW DELHI: The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), a subsidiary of the RBS Group, today announced the winners of the RBS ‘Earth Heroes’ Awards for 2014. Seven individuals/ institutions from the field of wildlife and conservation, who have demonstrated exemplary work on the ground, were chosen by an independent jury, for the RBS Earth Heroes Award. The jury panel, comprising active wildlife enthusiasts,environmentalists and conservationists, reviewed nominations received from across the country.

Mr. Brijesh Mehra, Country Executive – India, RBS N.V., said, “The dedication of the numerous nominees and winners of Earth Heroes Awards is truly inspiring; they are actually making a difference to our vital environs. We believe that collective efforts of government, organisations and local communities can place a higher emphasis on environmental protection and spread awareness, as our long term economic growth is dependent on environmental sustainability. Those who have been working consistently towards saving our environment deserve to be recognised and will be known as Earth Heroes.”

Pankaj Phatarphod, Country Head of Services, RBS India, said, “RBS Earth Heroes Awards spreads awareness about the significant work of individuals and institutions, which have done exemplary work in the field of conservation. Their example is truly motivating; not only for people with background in ecology preservation, but also for the larger Indian youth, who see the work of the award recipients as an inspiration. The key to achieve environmental sustainability is by getting all factions of the society involved and the RBS Earth Heroes Award is a step in this direction.”

Mr. N Sunil Kumar, Head of Sustainability, India, RBS N.V., and Director, RBS Foundation India, said, “This year ‘Earth Heroes’ Award event has unveiled awe-inspiring stories of people, who successfully contributed to environment conservation through years of constant perseverance with different activities and projects. As in previous years, it has been extremely difficult to make the decision and honour the most inspiring and impactful work, as each one of the efforts is remarkable. We are humbled to honour the winners for their efforts in the preservation of our planet for future generations.”

All the winners will be awarded citations and a cash prize each at the RBS ‘Earth Heroes’ Awards 2014 ceremony on 4th November, 2014 at Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA) in New Delhi.

1. RBS ‘Earth Hero Award (Felicitation)

This award recognizes extraordinary achievements of an individual who has worked a life time in conservation of wildlife, natural resource management, and environment and has influenced policy.

The RBS ‘Earth Hero’ Award was conferred upon Dr Erach Bharucha for his efforts in a lifetime of passionate engagement in nature and environment conservation with outstanding achievements. Dr Erach Bharucha, a surgeon by profession who has been active in wildlife and nature conservation for fifty years, is also presently Director, Bharati Vidyapeeth Institute of Environment Education and Research, Pune. He has been engaged in implementing a variety of environmental education programmes for schools and colleges and for the public at large. He has been associated with the NCERT, SCERT and UGC to further the cause of formal environmental education.

As a repository of knowledge on conservation issues and solutions and a custodian of several prestigious awards, Dr. Erach Bharucha with his experience has scaled the bench mark of conservation efforts significantly.

2. RBS ‘ Earth Guardian’ Award

This award recognizes an institution (NGO/Corporate/Government) that has made exceptional contributions in the field of conservation of wildlife, human life and property in wild habitats, natural resource management, environment, wildlife research and awareness building.

The RBS ‘Earth Guardian’ Awards was presented to Kenneth Anderson Nature Society (KANS), an organization based in Hosur, Tamil Nadu created with a mission of achieving wildlife sanctuary status for the Melagari Forest Region. Their efforts contributed significantly to the decisions undertaken by the government of Tamil Nadu in the creation of Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, thereby facilitating protected legal status to the biodiversity rich Eastern Ghats on Tamil Nadu side.

KANS through a committed team of volunteers has accomplished several exemplary conservation objectives in the rich biodiversity region of Melagiris, and demonstrated a rare and delicate balance between passion for conservation and concern for all stakeholders, human and others. The achievement of KANS is an excellent example of what concerted action by passionate volunteers can achieve without the infrastructure of a professional office, paid staff and budgets.

3. RBS ‘Save The Species’ Award

This award recognizes an individual or institution who has been involved, directly or indirectly, in protecting any endangered species and has also contributed to education, awareness programs, capacity building and resolving man-animal conflict.

 The RBS ‘Save The Species’ Award was presented to two nominees – Pangti Village Council for the effort in protection of the Amur Falcon in Nagaland and Dr Goutam Narayan for his role in The Pygmy Hog Conservation Programme (PHCP).

Pangti Village Council: The protection of the Amur Falcon (Falco Amurensis) during its migratory halt in Nagaland is one of the most outstanding conservation success stories. The Pangti Village Council has been involved in planning, implementation and the monitoring process to conserve the Amur Falcons as the major roosting site for the Amur Falcons falls under their jurisdiction. For the last three years, the village council has been engaging the local community and raising awareness through seminars and workshops. The people were made to understand about the importance of conservation and their co-operation was sought so that a long term conservation process maybe initiated in a manner where the people can ultimately start conserving wildlife on their own after the initial handholding from the Government and NGOs’.

Dr Goutam Narayan: The Pygmy Hog Conservation Programme (PHCP) is a broad-based research and conservation programme for this highly threatened species and its equally endangered habitats in Assam. Dr. Goutam Narayan has played a pivotal role in this conservation program since 1995. His and the team members’ personal commitment in conserving this rare suid is exemplary as today it is one of the shining instances of a successful in-situ conservation initiative. Today the Pigmy Hog is doing well in their reintroduced wild habitats of Sonai Rupai Wildlife Sanctuary and Orang Rajiv Gandhi National Park in the state of Assam. The lifelong dedication and the focused efforts of Dr. Goutam Narayan and his team have saved this rarest and smallest suid from extinction.

4. RBS ‘Inspire’ Award – Individual or Institutional

This award recognizes an individual (journalist/filmmaker/artist) who has inspired action on conservation of wildlife, natural resource management and environmental protection through his/her creative expression.

The RBS ‘Inspire’ Award was presented to Dhritiman Mukherjee, a self taught photographer who has been capturing some of the most extraordinary aspects of nature and wildlife and inspiring many along the way. Dhritiman was among the few who started documenting lesser-known, rare and endangered species from the difficult and less explored terrain of India. He spends 280 days in year in the field. He trekked for months to capture a single bird species, stayed in -30 degree temperatures to photograph a snow leopard, flew alongside vultures by paragliding to get a different angle and as of recently has been diving in frozen rivers and lakes to capture under water life. He is also one of the founders of “Saevus”, one of the leading nature and wildlife magazines in India. The imagery, a result of his hard work captivated the mind of many people and created awareness on the wide variety of species that constitute nature and wildlife.

5. RBS ‘Green Warrior’ Award – 2 individuals

This award recognizes two individuals who have done commendable work in conservation of wildlife, natural resource management, environment protection, human lives and property.

For the RBS ‘Green Warrior’ Awards two winners were identified, Sujoy Banerjee, an officer of the Indian Forest Service of 1997 and an accomplished wildlife conservationist; and P. S Somashekhar (IFS), member of the Indian Forest Service who has been serving for 29 years in different departments in different capacities.

Sujoy Banerjee: During his time as Deputy Conservator of Forests in the National Chambal Wildlife Division in Uttar Pradesh, Banerjee worked hard to preserve the wildlife and resource abundant National Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary which is home to a number of critically endangered and threatened species. 55 nests of the gharials species were protected by his team which resulted in more than 2000 gharial being added to the wild. They also protected 74 nests of the critically endangered Red Crowned Roof Turtle. Mr. Banerjee continues his dedicated efforts towards conservation. Ongoing initiatives include designing a simple and accurate tree height measuring instrument “Sujoy’s Altimeter” which is under commercial production, and a new method of mitigating human elephant conflict called the “Chilly Cracker Technique”, which is currently under field trial.

P. S Somashekhar in his present capacity as, Additional Principal Chief Conservator Forests (Forest Protection), Rajasthan he has been associated with protection, conservation of forests and wildlife of Rajasthan.

The Rajasthan Forest department faces severe challenges in conserving its biodiversity in the ecologically fragile semi-arid landscapes in the state. P. S Somashekhar’s involvement in village relocation programme has been immense and he was responsible for giving pace to the programme in Sariska tiger reserve. Categorically and diligently he undertook the most needed work of social engineering through mutual consent for voluntary relocation in the priority villages within the Critical Tiger Habitat.  He worked hard to get declaration of Buffer Zones of tiger reserves, facilitated the creation of tiger conservation foundations, and contributed to efforts in providing alternative livelihoods for relocated communities. His efforts have helped increase the tiger population in particular and his perseverance and commitment to conservation has helped the wildlife of Rajasthan.

Special Mention during the ‘Earth Heroes Awards’ has being addressed to Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, that was established on 14th August 1958 and is situated in the state of West Bengal. It is the only specialized Zoo in the country and is internationally recognized for its conservation breeding programmes of Red Panda, Snow Leopards, Tibetan Wolf and other highly endangered animal species of Himalaya. Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park also has a dedicated staff undertaking research and documentation of endangered species in the Himalayan ecosystem. Educating, motivating and initiating awareness campaign among the local people as well as visitors on the importance of conservation of Himalayan Eco-system is given a lot of importance by the zoo officials. The Park is a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquarium.

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