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SOS Rhino : In the News : Wildlife enthusiasts to be awarded
 

Wildlife enthusiasts to be awarded

  By: Kalika Bro-Jorgensen
December 11, 2003
Mid-Day Multimedia LTD

Seven wildlife enthusiasts will be awarded the ABN AMRO Sanctuary Wildlife Award today. They have devoted their lives to the protection of nature and animals, a choice that pays low rewards in terms of recognition as well as money.

Sanctuary wildlife magazine is trying to change this. Today═s award is being given to appreciate the tireless efforts of the winners in three different categories and they will be given sums between Rs 25,000 and Rs 1 lakh.

The Lifetime Service Award is going to 86-year-old ´Billy═ Arjan Singh. The former bodybuilder and reformed hunter has fought to protect tigers since 1960. Dressed in camouflage from head to toe, the frail-looking man addressed the press at a conference yesterday.

"Everyone loves the tiger from a distance. But as soon the tiger gets close to you, eating your food and killing your pets, you have no concern about its extinction.

You just want to see it dead. Humans are the super-predators of the world, and we will kill every other predator threatening us. Humans and tigers just can═t coexist; we need separate habitats.

But India has too many people; the cities are expanding into the territories of wild animals. So we have to start working on efficient family planning," said Singh.

The Little Theatre at NCPA, Nariman Point, was buzzing with adventurous tales from the world of wildlife with the winners sharing their life-threatening experiences.

A winner of the Wildlife Service Award, Bhupen Talukar, assistant conservator of forests in Assam, said, "Rhinos are part of the psyche of Assam people, and I have been fighting rhino poachers since the early 1990s. I have killed ten of them myself.

I shot them when I was working as a forest officer in Kaziranga. We traced the poachers and laid out ambushes but I killed them in self-defence, otherwise they would have killed me. And now Assam is the only place in India with an increasing rhino population."

Other winners like T Venkatesh have fought against the timber mafia of Karnataka, or like Sarang Kulkarni, have ensured the whale shark has had the highest level of governmental protection. Arvind K Chalasani, winner of the Green Teacher Award, organised the Kids for Tigers initiative in Dehra Dun and Mussoorie.

"The employees of national parks and reservations are not trained properly. They lack awareness and concern for nature protection, and they do not know how to deal with visitors. So we need more private initiatives and preferably compulsory teaching of environmental protection in schools," said Chalasani.

This evening all the winners will be honoured at a function, before they again return to their battlefields.

The green brigade:

Who: Billy Arjan Singh
What: Former bodybuilder
Award: Lifetime Service Award
For: Fighting to protect tigers
He says: Everyone loves a tiger from a distance. But as soon as it gets close to you, you have no concern about its extinction.

Who: Bhupen Talukar
What: Assistant conservator of forests, Assam
Award: Wildlife Service Award
For: Fighting rhino poaching
He says: Rhinos are part of the psyche of Assam people, and I have been fighting rhino poachers since the early 1990s

Who: Arvind Kumar Chalsani
What: Conservator
Award: Green Teacher Award
For: Organised Kids for Tigers programme
He says: We need more private initiatives and preferably compulsory teaching of environmental protection in schools