Month Year: December 2006
Wildlife Service Awards
Praveen Bhargav, an accomplished wildlifer, has been at the cutting edge of strategic conservation and research in Karnataka since 1979. A passionate advocate for wildlife, he was born in Gwalior, but has spent most of his life in Bangalore.
He graduated in mass communications and then, inspired by Dr. Ullas Karanth and K. M. Chinnappa, he co-founded Wildlife First, a Bangalore-based advocacy group that helped convince the Supreme Court to wind up the destructive open-cast mining by the Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Limited (KIOCL) in the Western Ghats. This has directly benefitted a number of endangered species including the endemic lion-tailed macaque.
It has also freed the exquisite Bhadra river from toxic contaminants routinely released by mining companies. This brought a series of pressure tactics against him by the politically well-connected mining industry. Allegations were made against him and his colleagues, but this hardly deterred Bhargav who continues to campaign against mining projects, logging and the extraction of bamboo from in and around the national parks and sanctuaries of Karnataka.
He coordinated the Karnataka Tiger Conservation Project in 1998 and has led various anti-poaching training programmes to impart skills to forest guards. He has also helped train forest staff and amateur naturalists to conduct line transect surveys, crucial to wildlife management. Praveen’s concerted efforts and interventions have prevented timber lobbies from running riot in the wildlife reserves of Karnataka. He has nurtured an effective network of wildlife media persons who now understand the nuances of complicated conservation issues.
The Wildlife Conservation Society, U.S.A., has recognised him as have many other international wildlife organisations. He is an Honorary Wildlife Warden for Karnataka. He is the quintessential wildlifer who has been able to marshal research, conservation and communications to the advantage of the wildernesses he loves.
First published in: Sanctuary Asia, Vol XXVI No. 6, December 2006.