Dr. Dharmendra Khandal
Month Year: December 2006
Wildlife Service Awards
He is one of the country’s few spider experts, a botanist and field researcher who works with tigers. Employed by Tiger Watch, an NGO founded by Fateh Singh Rathore in Ranthambhore, he is internally driven to protect Rajasthan’s wildlife. After studying desert ecology, he obtained a doctorate for his study of aquatic weed waste management. He has also researched the origins of the invasive Prosopis juliflora plant in India and in Ranthambhore National Park in particular. His discovery of the Lytoranchys paradoxus, belonging to the awl-headed snake group, earlier unknown to science, was published in Hamadryad in 2004. Khandal also reported two new spider species – Poltys godrjii and Poltys rehmanii. He has studied leopards in the Jhalana forest in Rajasthan, documented the spider diversity in Mumbai’s Sanjay Gandhi National Park and has helped wildlife enumeration in a number of sanctuaries. He is also actively involved in protecting India’s endangered vultures and towards this end undertook a solo vulture survey by motorbike over 2,500 km. of western India.
His most passionate involvement today is the setting up of an anti-poaching information network in Rajasthan. With colleagues, he has been responsible for several wildlife contraband seizures that have resulted in the arrest of poachers. A conservationist at heart, he is now searching for ways to reform and rehabilitate the families of the dangerous Mogiya tribal poachers. He motivated people to donate money to offer the Mogiya children free boarding, food and education. He is the face of tomorrow’s wildlife protection.
First published in: Sanctuary Asia, Vol XXVI No. 6, December 2006.