NIRMAL KULKARNI RECEIVES CARL ZEISS AWARD 2011 FOR WILDLIFE CONSERVATION.
The 11th Carl Zeiss Wildlife Conservation awards ceremony was held at the jacaranda hall in New Delhi on 1st April 2011 amidst an august gathering of tiger experts and conservationists, wildlife biologists, officials of the Indian Government, representatives of the media and the public.
Each year starting from the year 2001 an expert panel led by tiger specialist Valmik Thapar identifies five individuals involved with tiger and wildlife conservation and recognizes their commitment and dedicated efforts towards the cause of wildlife conservation.
Amongst the five conservationists chosen this year is Goa based Nirmal U. Kulkarni, a herpetologist and field ecologist who was acknowledged for his research and conservation initiatives in the Mhadei Bio region. He was part of a team that discovered two new species of legless amphibians, the caecilians - Goan caecilian (Gegeneophis goaensis) and Mhadei caecilian (Gegeneophis mhadeiensis) besides having mapped and extensively documented the lesser-known biodiversity of the region.
A graduate in Applied Art from the Goa College of Art, Nirmal has also completed his Masters in Environment and Ecology. The award recognised his expertise in combining science photography and activism in the Northern Western Ghats of India where he works. He has also worked on research projects in Gujarat, Assam and was part of a team that reported a new sub species species of the Jerdon’s pit viper from Arunachal Pradesh. As a trainer, he has helped shape young nature enthusiasts into foot soldiers for India’s wildlife research and conservation movement - particularly reptile conservation.
Nirmal is a Member of the Goa State Wildlife Advisory Board and has recently compiled a book on Goan Wildlife called ‘The Goan Jungle Book’
The other recepients of the awards were
a.Dr Dharmendra Khandal recognised for his inspirational tiger conservation work in anti poaching and for his unique holistic reform program for a poaching community inRanthambore, Rajasthan.
b.Dr M Firoz Ahmed a wildlife biologist from Assam who is extensively working for tiger reseaerch conservation in North east India and is deeply involved in community based conservaton initiatives.
c.Mr. Sanjay Gubbi from Karnataka for his path breaking work on large mammal conservation and mitigation of human wildlife conflcit thorugh science based advocacy.
d.Ms Vidya Athreya from Pune Maharashtra for her pioneering research on human -large cat interactions, especially leopards in sharing a common space with humans.
The award function was atteneded by a host of dignitories that included the Hon Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports PadmaVibhushan M S Gill, Shri Sitaram Yechuri, MP, Communist party of India, Shri V P Singh, Bhartiya Janata Party, PadmaShri P K Sen Ex Director of Project Tiger, tiger experts Valmik Thapar, Dr. Ulhas Karanth and Dr Y V Jhala, wildlife journalist Prerna singh Bindra and anti wildlife crime activist Belinda Wright, Chairman of the Central Empowered committee Mr P V Jayakrishnan,Padma Bhushan awardee and actor Shashi Kapoor amongst others.
The award consists of a trophy and a Carl Zeiss field binoculars that in tiger expert Valmik Thapar’s words is a great asset for all awardees who engage in saving India’s rapidly declining wildlife.
I am a wildlife ecologist working in the Western Ghats of the states of Goa,Karnataka and Maharashtra on lesser known fauna in general and herpetofauna in particular. My aim is also to photo document the lesser known fauna the Mahdei Bio region and create awareness amongst the masses of the same.