Sixteen-year-old Shubhankar Chaudhury believes the key to solving any problem is to deal with its root causes.
So, to help curb the menace of tiger poaching, he started working towards giving a community in Bhandhavgarh, Madhya Pradesh, that poached animals, an alternative means of living.
"Giving them money as donation and asking them to stop poaching was no solution. In order to stop them we had to create a sustainable, long-term solution," he said.
Chaudhury started working with Tiger Initiative Group for Earth Revival (T.I.G.E.R), an NGO.
"We plant various kinds of herbs on patches adjacent to the forest. Saplings or seeds of these herbs are then distributed to farmers and tribals whose villages are located around forests. As most villagers or tribal don't have proper access to markets for these herbs, we also buy back the produce from them."
As a result, the local communities stopped killing or poisoning the animals for their livelihood.
"This is an example of how we can save animals, especially tigers, only when we can improve the condition of the rural community and tribes who live around forests," said this Class XII student of Delhi Public School, Mathura Road.
Apart from this, he also participated in various awareness drives to educate the villagers and tribals about the adverse environmental impact of poaching.
He is actively involved the Tiger and Biodiversity Ecocentre at Umaria, Madhya Pradesh, which is being built with contribution from young people, local community and some financial support from corporates that will go a long way in saving not only tigers but the whole ecosystem in Bandavgarh.
When Chaudhury was asked who inspired him to to work at such a young age, he gives the credit to his family and school. "My parents have always encouraged me to participate in events and projects other than academics. And the help and support of my principal and eco club teacher has been instrumental in helping me to work towards my goals." Concluded