Goa's 'green couple' get Sanctuary magazine's lifetime award

The awards, instituted in 2000, will be given on December 18 in Mumbai, said Sanctuary magazine founder-editor Bittu Sahgal.

Mumbai: The husband-wife duo of Claude and Norma Alvares, founders of the Goa Foundation which first raised the issue of sand mining in Goa's beaches in 1987, have been named for this year's Lifetime Service Award by Sanctuary magazine.

Ashok Kumar, one of the pioneers of the fightback against wildlife crimes in India and chairman emeritus of the Wildlife Trust of India, Noida, has been named the 'Sanctuary Legend', a new category in this year's list of Sanctuary Wildlife Awards.

The Wildlife Service Awards will go to five personalities -- Varad Giri, a scientist with the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bengaluru for his contribution to understand and classify little known species, including discovering new species of snakes, geckos, frogs and cecilians.

Then there is Nandini Velho, who organised the first Arunachal Pradesh Bird Festival and helped draft the Pakke Tiger Reserve Conservation Plan, besides other contributions in the field.

Param Jit Singh, a trained geologist and forest officer from Uttarakhand, has overseen the notification of many critical biodiversity habitats like Nandhaur Wildlife Sanctuary, Naina Devi

Bird Conservation Centre, Pawalgarh Conservation Reserve and Jhilmil Conservation Reserve, besides pioneering a 24x7 forest helpline 'Van Mitra' and an automatic 'cloud centre' to enable citizens to report wildlife crimes.

Yash Veer Bhatnagar, director of the Snow Leopard Trust's India Programme who is mostly in icy, high-altitude wilderness, conducted one of the first long-term studies on the Asiatic Ibexm and organised a path-breaking scientific exploration of Ladakh.

The 'Gir Lion Protection Team' is the fifth awardee comprising foresters and forest guards protecting the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park in Gujarat, the last habitat of the Asiatic lion.

The teammates include 'Lion Queen of India' forester Rasila Vadher, who leads the department's rescue division, forest guard M.A. Rayjada and forester Madhu Karengia who cleared 36 hectares of encroachments in the lion forests.

The awards, instituted in 2000, will be given on December 18 in Mumbai, said Sanctuary magazine founder-editor Bittu Sahgal.

Besides, there will be three Young Naturalist Awards to Viral Joshi of Gujarat, Sailaja Nayak and Virendra Singh Panwar of Garhwal, a Green Teacher Award to Anurag Kumar of Lucknow, two Wind Under the Wings Awards to Jayan Menon and Malayala Manorama of Kerala and Anahita Mukherji and Times of India, Mumbai.

The Special Maharashtra Wildlife Service Awards will be given to Uttar Sawant of Pench Tiger Reserve, Umesh Verma of Melghat Tiger Reserve, N. Vasudevan, chief conservator of forests, Mangroves Cell, Mumbai, Purnima Upadhyay of Khoj Foundation and Gram Sabha of Payvihir village, and Kailash Hudme, Laxman Aware and Govinda Luche of Gothangaon, near Umred-Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary.

The winners of the Sanctuary Asia's Wildlife Photography Awards 2015 shall also be felicitated on the occasion.

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