Wildlife Service Award
Determined campaigner, activist and committed environment protector
Photo: Samarjit Sharma
The quintessential bookworm, Rohit Choudhury spends his days navigating India’s labyrinthine judicial system, dodging bullets both literal and figurative, to win legal battles for conservation. Born and brought up in Bokakhat, Assam, Choudhury’s contribution to his state’s rich and threatened biodiversity is both unique and unsung. A wildlife activist, he deploys the powerful Right to Information Act (RTI) to protect the biodiverse landscapes of the Kaziranga National Park, Manas National Park and a host of lesser-known Protected Areas. Extracting valuable information from reams of case documents and reports, he has committed himself to the tedium of careful reading and research that are critical to any conservation battle. He’s working to put a halt to the unregulated dumping of garbage from Guwahati city in the Ramsar Site of Deepor Beel; fighting the unlawful diversion of the Beki river in the core of the Manas National Park at the National Green Tribunal (NGT); and petitioning against the destruction of prime elephant habitats in the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong landscape by illegal mining operations. His work on the latter resulted in the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) ordering a ban on all mining activities in the concerned landscape. Here, he has also approached the NGT to address the issue of roadkills on NH37, where dozens of wild animals die agonising deaths under the wheels of speeding vehicles when they try to cross the road. Choudhury also won a stay order on the illegal expansion of the highway from Jakhalabandha to Bokakhat. Perhaps best known for his heroic fight against the Numaligarh Refinery for blocking an elephant corridor, Rohit Choudhury faces threats from all those that he brings to task. Yet, this gutsy activist continues undaunted.
First published in: Sanctuary Asia, Vol. XXXVIII No. 12, December 2018