Photo: Hannah Krupa.
Wildlife Service Award
Field Biologist, Communicator, Educator
It’s hard to keep pace with Nandini Velho, a trained field biologist whose prime purpose in life is to protect the biodiversity of the planet. At any given point of time, she could be in Arunachal’s Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, or Pakke Tiger Reserve, Goa, or Bengaluru. Her ‘can-do’ attitude and quick wit, dispels any notion people may have that nature conservation by definition is a dull, thankless and overtly serious occupation. With a Masters degree in conservation biology from the National Centre for Biological Sciences and Wildlife Conservation Society under her belt, she currently awaits her doctoral degree from Australia’s James Cook University.
A perfect blend of curiosity, scientific temperament and wanderlust, Nandini is undoubtedly the face of modern conservation in India. To better understand how policy works (or does not work), she worked as a ‘Policy Fellow’ at the Office of the Ministry of Environment and Forests with Jairam Ramesh, former Minister of Environment and Forests. Working closely with the Forest Department, local community leaders and other NGOs, she was part of a team that organised the first-ever Arunachal Bird Festival at Eaglenest. She has reviewed and helped write Tiger Conservation Plans of important reserves in northeast India. A conservation dynamo, she helped design and create a delightful Nature Interpretation Centre at Pakke, and annually works with children living in village schools around Eaglenest. Reaching out to supportive organisations such as Hemendra Kothari’s Wildlife Conservation Trust, she works with the Forest Department and Dr. Anish Andheria (Director of WCT) to raise funds for uniforms and provisions for as many as 140 frontline, anti-poaching staff of Pakke, the location for the fieldwork that resulted in both her dissertations.
An exceptionally charismatic communicator, Nandini’s writings range from academic journals across the world to popular publications where she expertly breaks down complicated issues into language that laypersons can comprehend. A link between hard conservation, science, and community welfare, Nandini is unstoppable in her quest to win support for wild nature!
And for this, we honour her.
First published in: Sanctuary Asia, Vol. XXXV No. 12, December 2015.