Two Indians Win The 2021 International Ranger Awards
The very first winners of the 2021 International Ranger Awards, presented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), were announced on April 7, in a virtual ceremony hosted online.
The very first winners of the 2021 International Ranger Awards, presented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), were announced on April 7, in a virtual ceremony hosted online. These new awards recognise individuals and ranger teams that have gone above-and-beyond the call of duty to protect wildlife and support local communities. The awards, established with the support of the International Ranger Federation, Conservation Allies, and Global Wildlife Conservation, complement the existing and ongoing range of awards offered to rangers around the world.
“Rangers are at the very heart of conservation,” said Kathy MacKinnon, chair of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas. “The stories of the winners of the new International Ranger Awards illustrate the scope and breadth of their work. Rangers protect wildlife and important natural habitats, they work with communities to address conflicts with wildlife and support conservation-based livelihoods, they collect scientific data, and serve as educators and communicators introducing young people and the broader public to the wonders of nature. Whether employed in a protected area or a community-managed reserve, rangers are critical to our global conservation efforts, helping to stem biodiversity loss and protect the important ecosystems that serve as natural solutions to climate change and other global challenges. WCPA is delighted to be a partner in delivering these new awards, which recognise their vital work.”
This year’s 10 winners included eight individual rangers and two ranger teams, selected from among 113 nominations from 43 countries. These nominations totalled 630 rangers: 68 individual nominations and 45 team nominations. All of the winners are rangers in protected and conserved areas and are residents of the countries in which they work. The winners will receive US$10,000 to support their work, a commemorative plaque, and a custom uniform patch to signify their achievement. A further 19 rangers and teams have been recognised with special commendations.
The winners of the 2021 International Ranger Awards are:
- Anety Milimo (Zambia): a research technician and field ranger in Mosi Oa Tunya National Park;
- Aung Zaw Myint (Myanmar): a ranger in Chathin Wildlife Sanctuary in Myanmar;
- Bénévoles au sein de l’Aire Protégée (Madagascar): a young volunteer ranger team protecting Menabe Antimena Protected Area from forest fires;
- Chhay Reap Community Crocodile Wardens (Cambodia): a team of Indigenous rangers protecting critically endangered Siamese crocodiles in Southern Cardamoms National Park;
- Giorgi Abramishvili (Georgia): a senior ranger in Batsara-Babaneuri Protected Areas;
- Mahindra Giri (India): a range officer with the Uttarakhand Forest Department in Rajaji Tiger Reserve;
- Ninfa Carianil (Colombia): a ranger in Águila Harpía ProAves Reserve in the Colombian Amazon;
- Offossou d’Andous Kissi (Côte d’Ivoire): a ranger in charge of community outreach for the Comoé National Park;
- Sathish Sundaram (India); a forest ranger with the Tamil Nadu Forest Department in Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park;
- Sergey Erofeev (Russia): the deputy director of conservation in Altai State Biosphere Reserve.
Mahindra Giri (India)
Mahindra Giri has worked for 23 years in and around Rajaji Tiger Reserve. He and his team track and remotely monitor tigers and leopards, and have used the resulting knowledge to help successfully reintroduce tigers to the western part of the Reserve.
Mahindra Giri (India): a range officer with the Uttarakhand Forest Department in Rajaji Tiger Reserve
Mahindra Giri has been at the forefront of managing conflict with leopards. In challenging circumstances, he was able to convince concerned villagers to allow him and his team to translocate to Rajaji Tiger Reserve a leopard that had killed 24 people. Since then, he has successfully captured and relocated six more leopards, protecting both the cats and villagers from any further conflict. As a result, there have no further deaths from leopard attacks. Mahindra now also works with local communities to peacefully resolve conflicts with elephants.
Sathish Sundaram (India)
Working on the beaches and in the waters of the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park, Sathish Sundaram has rescued numerous dolphins and dugongs from fishing nets and strandings, successfully incubated record numbers of Olive Ridley Turtle eggs, led mangrove restoration, and organised underwater plastic clean-ups. Through targeted and responsive patrols, he has dramatically reduced wildlife crime in the National Park. By collecting evidence of more than 100 poaching attempts, he has enabled recovery of the Park’s sea cucumber population.
Sathish Sundaram (India); a forest ranger with the Tamil Nadu Forest Department in Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park
He maintains close contact with local communities and has enlisted the help of fishers and local people to protect dugongs and their habitats. To help communities benefit from conservation, he has initiated ‘Kaarankaadu Community-Based Ecotourism’, which has been recognised for its success by the National Biodiversity Authority.