Vishal Prabhakar Bansod
Month Year: December 2005
Young Naturalist Award
Today, he accompanies their health activists to remote tribal villages whose trust he has won and whose cooperation he enlists in the battle to save the wildlife of Vidharbha. Wildlife defender and social worker, Vishal Bansod is active in 39 villages of the Melghat Tiger Reserve. Just 24 years old, he already has an incredible 10 years of nature education and wildlife conservation work with the Nature Conservation Society, Amravati (NCSA) under his belt. Hardcore wildlifers and conservationists in Central India know Vishal to be a part of the protection landscape in this, one of India’s most critical wildlife regions. He was just 14 years old when he began to work with the NCSA as a volunteer.
Today, he accompanies their health activists to remote tribal villages whose trust he has won and whose cooperation he enlists in the battle to save the wildlife of Vidharbha. He networks with small NGOs and youth organisations and undertakes community conservation initiatives that are helping to resolve knotty wildlife problems. A natural leader, his young life has seen him conduct raids in farmhouses of the rich and in illegal markets, together with the forest department staff. He has even taken on illegal liquor distillers who had laid siege to waterholes in the Pohara-Malkhed Reserve Forest. His work involves corridor mapping and protection of such endangered wildlife as the Forest Spotted Owlet and the wild buffalo in the Naxal-dominated forests of Maharashtra and Chattisgarh.
First published in: Sanctuary Asia, Vol XXV No. 6, December 2005.