Winners Of The TOFTigers Wildlife Tourism Awards 2018
Celebrating the ‘best of the best’ in nature tourism in the Indian sub-continent, the 5th TOFTigers Wildlife Tourism Awards 2018 was held in association with the Sanctuary Nature Foundation at the residence of the British High Commissioner in New Delhi on September 27, 2018.
The theme for this awards edition was ‘Inclusive Conservation’, focusing on sustainable eco-tourism initiatives that not only conserve fast-disappearing flora and fauna but also deliver substantial benefits to local economies. From the numerous nominations received, the judging panel under the Chairmanship of wildlife cinematographer Mike Pandey narrowed in on those who lead from the front in sustaining and enhancing the region’s precious wildlife and rural communities. A recent study initiated by TOFTigers and BAAVAN on The Value of Wildlife Tourism Around Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan for Wildlife Conservation and Local Communities was also released during the event.
Wildlife Tourism Related Community Initiative of the Year
Sponsor: Rare India
Jatayu Vulture Restaurant, Nepal
Photo Courtesy: Jatayu Vulture Restaurant
The brainchild of D.B. Chaudhary, a local naturalist and lodge manager, Jatayu Vulture Restaurant is the first community-managed vulture restoration project in the buffer zone of Nepal’s Chitwan National Park. The restaurant feeds diclofenac-free cattle carcasses to vultures. This simple programme has helped revive populations of eight endangered vulture species, leading to a 150 per cent increase in vulture populations in the buffer zone and 200 per cent rise in their nesting. Besides promoting eco-tourism, the scheme has also generated livelihood opportunities.
For more: https://jatayurestaurant.com/
Tora Eco Resort & Life Experience Centre, Sundarbans, West Bengal
Run by the community-led Bali Nature and Wildlife Conservation Society in association with Vivada Hospitality, the Tora Eco Resort & Life Experience Centre puts money generated back into community programmes and wildlife conservation awareness initiatives.
For more: https://www.toraresort.in/
The Billy Arjan Singh Memorial Award Wildlife Guide of the Year
Sponsor: Abercrombie & Kent
Ramkali Dhurway, Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh
A guide at the Mukki gate since 2011, she is one of Kanha’s most sought-after guides for her in-depth knowledge of the park’s flora and fauna, and her unrivalled ability to narrate their stories. Her ability to interact with both domestic and international guests, steadfast work ethic and extensive knowledge combine to ensure that visitors have a great recreational and educational experience. She is the first woman guide to win this award.
Ramrao Sakharam Nehare, Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra
A committed guide and naturalist at the park since 1998, he is a ‘Tadoba insider’ in the truest sense. Born in a village once located inside the park’s core area, Nehare has grown up seeing how nature tourism benefited his community.
Wildlife and Tourism Initiative of the Year
Sponsor: Singinawa Jungle Lodge
Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust, Ladakh
The Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust began conceptualising village home stays as immersive nature tourism experiences in 2003 to support the conservation of endangered snow leopards. The Ladakhi villages of Ulay and Rumbak are now two of the best places in the world to sight these once-elusive creatures. The charity’s focus on building the capacity of local communities to diversify their livelihoods, while also protecting wildlife is the strongest prescription for conservation.
For more: https://snowleopardindia.org/
Terra Conscious, Goa
A community-based travel and social impact enterprise focusing on coastal conservation, Terra Conscious encourages and practices sustainable marine tourism in collaboration with community boat operators.
For more: https://www.terraconscious.com/
Lodge Naturalist of the Year
Sponsor: Taj Safaris
Siddarth Biniwale, Reni Pani Jungle Lodge, Satpura Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh
Photo: Reni Pani Jungle Lodge
A geologist by education, Biniwale is passionate about birdwatching and camera-trapping photography. Going beyond his duties as a naturalist at the lodge, he monitors waterholes in the buffer zone of the reserve and coordinates with the Forest Department to ensure that they are well-maintained.
Uday Patel, Courtyard House, Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh
An active naturalist and writer for more than two decades, his extensive knowledge has often driven his guests to get further involved in wildlife conservation. He also conducts nature trips for Jabalpur’s Forest Department and the CFN Society.
The John Wakefield Memorial Award for Most inspirational Eco lodge of the Year
Sponsor: Holiday Charme India
Khem Villas, Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan
Photo Courtesy: Khem Villas
Spread across 25 acres of once-barren and overgrazed land, Khem Villas now harbours three lakes, a wetland and grassland. Owned and managed by Dr. Goverdhan Rathore and his wife, the lodge is home to over 180 bird species, 45 species of butterflies, a host of mammals and 30 species of native trees. They also practice water harvesting, energy efficiency, kitchen gardening, and invest in community development initiatives. It gained TOFTigers’ highest PUG eco-rating in 2017.
For more: https://www.khemvillas.com/
Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge, Chitwan National Park, Nepal
Tiger Tops set the framework for responsible tourism almost six decades ago – and still holds on to the same values. The Tharu Lodge, originally designed in the 1970s, sets the bar for old-charm hospitality, low environment impact, and long-term support for buffer zone and local communities. It supplies vehicles and manpower to parks for wildlife management and bird census work, secures salaries for teachers in three community schools, and has its own free health clinic and ambulance services.
For more: https://www.tigertops.com/tharu-lodge/
Dhole’s Den, Bandipur National Park, Karnataka
Run by Kartik Davey and his wife Ingrid, this contemporary homestay with a panoramic view of the Nilgiris is a shining example of uncompromising eco-standards. The Dhole’s Den Research Foundation supports community schools and the Bandipur Forest Department in different capacities.
For more: https://dholesden.com/
Up and Coming Excellence in Nature Award
Sponsor: Cox & Kings India
Red Earth Resort, Kabini, Karnataka
Owned and run by Ravi Parameswaran and his wife Rachel, Red Earth is a carefully-crafted eco-lodge built on 10 acres of a once-barren peninsula jutting into the Kabini dam. Today, it is a completely-restored area that hosts a variety of wildlife with extensive tree cover. The lodge boasts of an able workforce that is 100 per cent locally-sourced. Focused on community welfare, they support a local residential school and hospital. Red Earth practices high-standard waste, water and energy management.
For more: https://www.redearthkabini.in/
Flame of the Forest Safari Lodge, Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh
Set up by Isabelle and Karan Modi, this boutique safari lodge boasts of low environmental impact, well-trained local employees, and an extraordinary community women’s health project.
For more: https://flameoftheforest.in/en_GB/
International Tour Operator of the Year
All for Nature, Netherlands
With an aim to promote wildlife conservation, Annemiek Van Gijn began this business for clients from the Benelux countries over eight years ago. Her very real commitment to drive responsible travel manifests itself in a host of ways; including full tour operators’certification, a commitment to use only PUG-certified lodges in India and Nepal, and a pledge to invest 10 per cent of their annual turnover in nature conservation through a host of projects across the globe.
For more: www.allfornature.nl
Greaves Travel, U.K.
For four decades, they have worked across the sub-continent as a responsible tour operator highlighting their efforts through concrete actions and substantial funding support to both wildlife and people focused charities.
For more: https://www.greavestravel.com/
Natural World Safaris, U.K.
Will Bolsover’s Natural World Safaris is a specialist safari operator on a mission to promote wildlife conservation and generate awareness around it. Visitor contributions to their local conservation partners are made for all safaris.
For more: www.naturalworldsafaris.com