Photograph by Paresh Porob.
Month Year: December 2012
Wildlife Service Award
Wildlifer, principled forest officer, conservationist
Richard D’Souza is a wildlife defender, but he will be remembered by the people of Goa as the man who protected their water sources forever. A rare individual whose blood seems to flow even greener than Goa’s tiger forests, which he zealously protects, his passion for all things natural dates back to the 60s, when as a student he first encountered a tiger in Billy Arjan Singh’s Dudhwa Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh. He decided then and there that he would join the Indian Forest Service, a dream that came true in 1980 with a posting to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Since that day, he has been steadfastly walking the narrow, unbeaten wildlife conservation trail, which has had its own share of problems including two near-death experiences.
As the Chief Wildlife Warden of the A&N Islands, he quickly got Cuthbert Bay declared as a sanctuary for the olive Ridley turtle, Rani Jhansi Marine National Park for the endangered dugong and Galathea Bay in Great Nicobar for the highly endangered giant leatherback turtle. Shielding these amazing creatures has not only guaranteed their future, but that of the millions of other lifeforms, including ourselves, all subtly intertwined in that fine web we call nature.
He has also authored management plans for many other regions in the Andamans in the 16 long years he spent there. This lifetime experience stood him in good stead in Goa, where he works as the Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests for a government that has given almost 20 per cent of the total land area of the state over to sanctuary or national park status. He has been protecting the wildlife of India all his life, particularly helping the tigers of Goa.
For this, we honour him.
First published in: Sanctuary Asia, Vol XXXII No. 6, December 2012.