Meet the dedicated conservationists, who have been awarded The Habitats Trust Grants 2020
Climate change and its variability pose a serious threat to biodiversity and its conservation. To tackle this glaring problem, The Habitats Trust was founded in 2018 by Roshni Nadar Malhotra, Chairperson of HCL Technologies, and her husband, Shikhar Malhotra, Vice Chairman and CEO of HCL Healthcare. The two trustees of the Shiv Nadar Foundation are passionate about wildlife and its conservation, and set up the Trust to support conservation initiatives that tackle the threats to the lesser-known wildlife and habitats of India.
Through various initiatives, The Habitats Trust works to empower on-ground conservationists and organisations in India. One such endeavour is The Habitats Trust Grants, an annual initiative which supports organisations and individuals dedicatedly working towards securing the country’s vibrant biodiversity. While there is extensive research and conservation attention accorded to charismatic species such as tigers, rhinoceroses and elephants, there remains an urgent need to support conservation for species and habitats that are not well-known as well, for example, the critically endangered great Indian bustard, or the Indian pangolin.
The Habitats Trust Grants received over 4,300 registrations in 2020. The recipients of the Grants were evaluated based on various parameters, including the expected impact, relevance, and scalability of the project, and also the long-term sustainability of the proposed work after the one-year period.
The four grant recipients – one each category, were selected by an eminent jury comprising of Ms. Bahar Dutt, wildlife biologist, author and environmental journalist; Mr. Brian Heath, Founder and CEO of the Mara Triangle Conservation Area, Kenya; Dr. M. K Ranjitsinh, wildlife expert and the prime architect of the Wild Life (Protection) Act of 1972; and Ms. Roshni Nadar Malhotra, Chairperson of HCL Technologies, Founder and Trustee of The Habitats Trust.
Recipients of The Habitats Trust Grants 2020
The Strategic Partnership Grant, worth ₹25 lakh, was awarded to The Corbett Foundation for the ‘Conservation and Recovery of the Great Indian Bustard in Kutch’. This grant reaches out to mid to large-sized field work oriented organisations, in order to foster a two-way partnership for the common cause of conservation.
The population of the critically endangered great Indian bustard in Rann of Kutch has declined over the years, with only a handful of birds remaining in this region. Threats like habitat degradation and collision with power lines have driven this bird to the brink of extinction. The Corbett Foundation has been working towards habitat restoration in this region, and plans to further scale their efforts by adopting a holistic approach to conservation.
There’s also the Lesser-known Habitats Grant, which is open to organisations working to secure and regenerate the overlooked and unaddressed habitats of the country. This grant worth ₹20 lakh was awarded to SEEDS Trust for ‘Conserving the Ayyalur Habitat in the Eastern Ghats, and its Biodiversity’.
The Ayyalur forests are mostly made up of dry deciduous and scrub jungle vegetation. Wild animals like the gray slender loris, and many other endemic and endangered species call these forests home, but they are constantly living under threat, due to the degradation of their habitat. With this project, SEEDS Trust looks to streamline conservation efforts towards sustainable regeneration of the habitat.
In conjunction with this is the Lesser-known Species Grant, worth ₹15 lakh, which has been awarded to Bat Conservation India Trust for ‘Research and Conservation to Prevent Extinction of the Kolar leaf-nosed bat’. This unique species is found in a single cave in Karnataka, and is severely threatened due to habitat loss from land use change, hunting, and stone quarrying in the region. Bats have also been falsely linked to the coronavirus pandemic, necessitating the urgent need for conservation work on the species.
Lastly, the Conservation Hero Grant, at ₹10 lakh, was awarded to M. Suraj for his project ‘Anti-snare Walks in Protected Areas of Chhattisgarh to Curb Poaching’. A mechanical engineer by training, Suraj has been working towards preserving natural habitats for over a decade now, in his home state of Chhattisgarh. He will use the support from The Habitats Trust to scale up efforts to curb poaching and hunting through anti-snare walks, and will also develop strategies to sensitise local communities about conservation efforts.
The other finalists were also awarded 10 percent of the grant value in their respective categories in support of their conservation efforts. The total grant amount awarded by The Habitats Trust Grants 2020 is Rs. 84 lakh.
To learn more about The Habitats Trust, visit their website: www.thehabitatstrust.org