Aditya Chandra Panda
Month Year: December 2007
YOUNG NATURALIST AWARDS
He is all of 21, is doing his B.Sc. and visits the Chandaka-Dampara Sanctuary near Bhubaneshwar every week to monitor elephant herds locked in a tragic and chronic human-conflict zone. He has also spent time monitoring tigers and prey density in the Satkosia-Gorge Wildlife Sanctuary and has studied the status of fishing cats in the marshes of the Chilika lake. It hardly seems possible, but he has also spent time surveying grey wolves in the Khurda district and has gathered data that is being used to protect the Simlipal-Saranda wildlife corridor that is being threatened by the Kolkata- Mumbai National Highway No 6.
He and his colleagues are lobbying to strengthen the corridor between the Ghumusar North Division, to maintain its continuity with the Nayagarh forests of central Orissa. And with Nanda Kishore Bhujabal, he is working on ways to motivate and involve the communities living around the Ghodahada Reservoir, on the border of the Lakhari Wildlife Sanctuary in South Orissa to protect the wildlife of the area.
He works with the Orissa Forest Department and is a part of Wild of Orrisa, a wildlife organisation that has supported him for many years. He is working right now to hone his photography skills and is intent on doing his masters in wildlife biology. While most kids his age were occupied with video games, parties and urban pleasures, Aditya Chandra Panda accompanied his grandfather through the wilds of Orissa and ascribes his love for wildlife to these journeys. His parents say he was brought up on a staple of shikar and jungle tales and would often refuse to eat a meal unless a copy of National Geographic was spread out and read to him.
His heroes include the hunter-conservationist Sher Jung, whose ‘Tryst with Tigers’ greatly influenced him; also Sálim Ali and Billy Arjan Singh, whom he credits with his mind shift from pleasure-centric wildlife watching to hard core conservation. This is a fine young naturalist by any definition. We at Sanctuary can hardly wait for him to take charge.
First published in: Sanctuary Asia, Vol XXVII No. 6, December 2007.