Assam conservationist nominated for Whitley Awards

The Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN), a Britain-registered charity, has announced the shortlist of six finalists for the Whitley Awards 2017.

Guwahati: Assam`s Purnima Barman, known for her efforts for the conservation of the Greater Adjutant Stork and its habitat, has been nominated for the prestigious Whitley Awards 2017, also called the Green Oscar, it was announced on Tuesday.

This prestigious international prize honours exceptional individuals working in grassroots nature conservation in the world`s developing countries, and who often face humanitarian, environmental and political challenges in the projects they undertake.

The Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN), a Britain-registered charity, has announced the shortlist of six finalists for the Whitley Awards 2017.

There is another Indian in the list - Sanjay Gubbi who has been nominated for his efforts to reduce deforestation in Karnataka`s tiger corridors.

The others contenders are Ximena Velez-Liendo, who has been enabling coexistence of Andean bears and farmers in the Bolivian mountains, Alexander Blanco for conserving Venezuela`s magnificent harpy eagles as a rainforest flagship, Ian Little for contribution towards conserving South Africa`s threatened grassland biodiversity, and Indira Lacerna Widmann, who has partnered with prisoners to safeguard the Critically Endangered Philippine cockatoo.

The final results will be announced at a special evening ceremony May 18 this year at the Royal Geographical Society in London.

Barman, 37, a native of Assam`s Kamrup district, has been engaged in conservation of the Greater Adjutant Storks, popularly known as Hargila in Assamese, and their habitats for several years now. Her success can be gauged by the name she has earned - "Hargila Baideu" (Stork sister) in Dadara village where there is a huge colony of the species living without any disturbance from the humans.

The village has over 1,000 storks now and the credit goes to Barman and the hard work and dedication she has put in all these years. She had even quit her job as a college teacher so that she could devote herself to its conservation.

"It all started in early 2009 when Aaranyak, a society for biodiversity conservation, took up an initiative for the conservation of the bird and entrusted me to create awareness among the locals," said a happy Barman.

She regularly visits the villages and organizes awareness campaigns relentlessly among the locals, through posters, banners, street plays etc. Roads in Dadara, Pacharia and Singimari are all spruced up with posters and banners with messages to save the bird. She motivates the locals saying the bird is their asset and as such, they should protect it.