Founded in 1981 by Bittu Sahgal, at the behest of legendary conservationist Fateh Singh Rathore, Sanctuary Asia is India’s leading nature and conservation portal. Sanctuary aims to communicate to readers the rationale for wildlife conservation and environment protection with a focus on the Indian subcontinent. In the years since its inception, it has come to be at the fulcrum of innumerable wildlife conservation campaigns, and serves as a forum for wildlife groups, concerned individuals and non-profit organisations in the country. It is today India’s leading wildlife, conservation and environment magazine.
Born of a sense of wonder for India’s natural heritage, and the drive to affect positive change, Sanctuary envisions a world with abundant biodiversity, a sustainable climate and an equitable future for one and all. The organisation strives toward this objective via our numerous projects, partnerships, events and programmes.
Helmed by Bittu Sahgal and comprising a tight-knit and committed team of conservationists, naturalists, photographers, writers and editors, Sanctuary Asia magazine is published six times a year. In its pages, it showcases the best of Indian wildlife photographers and writers, and addresses pressing conservation issues. Though it manifests as a magazine, Sanctuary’s reach spans policy, advocacy, science, on-ground support, habitat management and much, much more.
The publication is a privately owned, self-supporting venture and does not accept any donations. Its funding sources are advertisements, subscriptions and content provision.
The overwhelming response to Sanctuary’s inception in 1981 led to the birth of Sanctuary Cub, a children's nature magazine, in 1984 and to The Ecologist Asia (Indian edition of The Ecologist, U.K.) a journal dedicated to issues of the environment, development and human rights, in 1993.
In the 1980s, Sanctuary Films produced two wildlife/conservation serials aired on Doordarshan, India's national television network. The first, Project Tiger, was a documentary while the other, Rakshak, was a narrative serial for children. The films were shot on 16 mm. and the Sanctuary team visited virtually every wildlife haven in India for the show (stock footage available on request).
In the early 1990s, Sanctuary's scope expanded. We began to reach out to larger numbers through the syndication of articles. Sanctuary Features was born and it used the mainstream press to put forward alternate views on wildlife and development issues. Features covered a variety of subjects including travel, science, health, nutrition and the politics of development. Sanctuary Features is now also a leading content provider for websites interested in the above subjects.
Sanctuary is a melting pot of natural history visuals, information and resources. Sanctuary Photo Library, our stock photo agency, was created in 1990 as a repository of natural history images. It has a fully computerised database of stunning wildlife and landscape pictures that are available on request.
In 1999, Sanctuary launched Kids for Tigers, an environmental education programme that was introduced in schools across India. Kids for Tigers was developed to increase awareness amongst children about biodiversity and the urgent need to save tigers and forests in order to secure our own future. Through exciting workshops, nature walks, and annual tiger fests, Kids for Tigers has already nurtured several generations of committed conservationists.
In the year 2000, the Sanctuary Wildlife Awards were instituted to honour men and women working at the front lines of India's battle to protect our wilderness areas. Since then the awards have evolved into an annual event of much prestige and note.
In 2008, Sanctuary partnered with Deutsche Bank to found GreenKarbon – a biodiversity-climate change initiative. GreenKarbon seeks to involve urban Indians in a movement towards a sustainable future. Currently, we are developing the blueprint for a Nature Conservancy Project that seeks to rewild abandoned and failed farms that lie adjacent to protected areas, while providing a stable income to landowners.
Since 2010, Sanctuary has also established itself prominently on social media. Our Facebook page serves as a hub for topical conservation issues and has over 130,000 ‘likes’. The Facebook group has taken the form of an informal forum for wildlife photographers and has over 55,000 members. Our Twitter handle has about 10,000 followers and is growing exponentially, as is the Instagram account. Sanctuary’s presence on these various platforms allows us to engage with people from across the globe and spur effective action on urgent issues.
Conceived under the boughs of a sprawling Banyan tree in Rajasthan’s Ranthambhore National Park, Sanctuary Asia is today synonymous with wildlife conservation.