The 9th TN Khoshoo Memorial Award for Conservation, Environment and Development

Press release 8 Aug, 9:00am: 2012 TN Khoshoo Memorial Award and Lecture

Dr. Vidya Athreya
Sharing space with leopards: how man and beast adapt in human dominated landscapes

Vidya Athreya’s work is to demystify the leopard. “Wild animals know no borders. In India, they cannot afford to because people and their livestock are everywhere,” says the Research Associate with Pune’s Kaati Trust, and Centre for Wildlife Studies & Asian Nature Conservation Foundation, Bangalore. Vidya has been studying the dynamics of human-leopard encounters and the ecology and biology of this species, which is found on the fringes of villages and human habitations across India, as well as the politics and socio-cultural elements of such encounters. Backed by research carried out since 2003, she is in a position to advise that translocating this big cat, as a strategy to mitigate human-leopard conflict, will not work, given the territorial instincts and homing behavior of this free-ranging animal.

Vidya Athreya gets the 2012 TN Khoshoo Memorial Award for Conservation, Environment and Development. According to Dr. Ganesan Balachander, Chair of the Khoshoo Endowment Committee, “The Khoshoo award recognizes work that improves our understanding of nature and promotes inclusive conservation and environmentally sound development. Vidya gets this award for her pioneering work in understanding human-wildlife interactions.” Vidya has contributed to the human-leopard conflict management guidelines published by the MOEF in 2011. Her website, outlines her work on density of leopards, their prey, the losses farmers face due to leopards and their attitudes towards the species.”

Later in the evening, Dr. Madhav Gadgil will deliver the 9thTN Khoshoo Memorial Lecture on ‘Western Ghats: Nature, People and Development’. Dr. Madhav Gadgil on being asked to deliver the Dr. TN Khoshoo Memorial Lecture: “It is a great privilege and pleasure for me to be asked to deliver the Dr T N Khoshoo Memorial Lecture for 2012. Dr Khoshoo was a first rate scientist and a very generous and sensitive human being. He was a cultured person with a love and appreciation of India’s biomass-based civilization. He was one of the country’s foremost exponents of the cause of environment and played a key role in shaping the country’s environmental protection strategy as the Secretary of the newly established Department of Environment. At a more personal level, he was a close friend and supporter of my own work in ecology at the Indian Institute of Science. I am therefore honoured to pay him this tribute.”

Biodiversity Asia 2012, the 2nd Asia Region Conference of the Society for Conservation Biology, organized by ATREE, IISc and co-organisers, is also hosting the 2012 TN Khoshoo Memorial Award and Lecture this year. The TN Khoshoo Memorial Award and Lecture has been instituted to honour the memory of environmentalist, the late Dr. Triloki Nath Khoshoo, who was also the first Secretary of the Department of Environment in 1982, and draughtsman of India’s environmental policy. The TN Khoshoo Memorial Award and Lecture is supported by the Khoshoo family, ATREE, and the Institute of Rural Research and Development (an initiative of the SM Sehgal Foundation).

NOTE: TN KHOSOO MEMORIAL AWARD AND LECTURE starts at 5.30pm, Wednesday, 8 August at JN Tata Auditorium, IISc campus. Join us for tea and refreshments at 5.00pm. Request you to take your places for the lecture and awards ceremony by 5.25pm.

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More about Vidya Athreya
Vidya Athreya is Research Associate, Kaati Trust, Pune and Centre for Wildlife Studies & Asian Nature Conservation Foundation, Bangalore. Vidya is interested in how wild animals live in human use landscapes and the adaptation by both, people and animals to each other’s presence. Her work focuses on wildlife outside Protected Areas, especially with the conflict-causing species, the leopard. Her research aims at understanding the drivers of conflict as well as the ecology of leopards when they live among humans. She has worked extensively with the Maharashtra Forest Department to decrease conflict by using knowledge-based management interventions, and contributed to the national guidelines on human-leopard conflict published by the MOEF in 2011. Her website, outlines her work on density of leopards, their prey, the losses farmers face due to leopards and their attitudes towards the species.

Vidya did her Masters in Ecology from University of Pondicherry as well as from the University of Iowa. She is a member of the IUCN cat specialist group.

Abstract of Dr. Gadgil’s lecture on Western Ghats: Nature, People and Development
On the Western Ghats, as everywhere on earth, humans dominate the natural world. This is, in part, because as a successful species, our genes prompt us to survive ever longer and breed prolifically, so that human populations are on a continual upswing. But more importantly, humans have entered the cognitive niche, and having developed symbolic language and the capacity to work out cause-effect relationships, they have mastered two other types of replicating entities, memes and artifacts. Like living organisms, both memes and artifacts have been multiplying and evolving, becoming more numerous, more diverse, more complex, and invading new adaptive zones. It is this mass of artifacts, much more than the simple anthropomass that is now overwhelming the natural world. Behind this is the power and prestige conferred on humans through the possession of ever more complex and numerous artifacts. This explosion of artifacts is moderated by the inherent biophilia as well as the capacity of humans to appreciate the threats to their long term group interests by an unchecked growth of artifacts. Notably, people also gain prestige by challenging those higher in social hierarchy, and social movements to unchecked growth of artifacts are strengthened by this motivation. We explore how these forces are playing out on Western Ghats, a global treasure trove of biodiversity.

Dr. Madhav Gadgil profile
Madhav Gadgil (b. 1942) was born in the city of Pune where he developed an interest in plants, birds, insects and trekking from an early age. He was the holder of the Maharashtra State Junior and Pune University high jump records. These outdoor interests further fostered his love of ecological fieldwork, which has been his life long passion.

He studied Zoology at Universities of Pune and Mumbai, before becoming the first biology student at Harvard University to receive a PhD degree for a thesis based on mathematical modeling; this won him an IBM Fellowship of Harvard Computing Center and became a Citation Classic. His scientific interests focus on ecology and evolutionary biology, conservation biology, human ecology, natural resource management and ecological history. His publications include 225 scientific papers and 9 books. He has been engaged in many innovative experiments of involving High School and College teachers and students in inventorying and monitoring of biodiversity.

Madhav Gadgil has been a Lecturer on Biology at Harvard, a Distinguished Indo-American Lecturer at UC Berkeley and a Visiting Professor at Stanford. From 1973 to 2004 he was on the faculty of Indian Institute of Science, where he established the Center for Ecological Sciences. He was a member of the Science Advisory Council to Prime Minister of India from 1986-90, and National Advisory Council from 2010 to 12. He chaired the Science and Technology Advisory Panel of Global Environment Facility, a UN Environmental Funding agency from 1998-2002, and the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel 2010-11.

Madhav Gadgil wrote a series of 10 articles on Animal Behaviour in the Marathi science magazine ‘Srishtidnyan’ when he was a 10th standard High School student. Subsequently he has written over 400 popular articles in English and Marathi in many newspapers and magazines. His books have been translated in Hindi, Kannada, Malyalam and Gujarathi. Currently, he is a regular columnist for the Marathi daily, ‘Sakal’.

Madhav Gadgil has been elected to all the Science Academies of India, the Third World Academy of Sciences and the U. S. National Academy of Science. He is an Honorary Member of the British and American Ecological Societies, and the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation. He is a recipient of Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar and Vikram Sarabhai Awards, Volvo Environment Prize, Harvard University’s GSAS Centennial Medal, Karnataka’s Rajyotsava Award and Padma Shri as well as Padma Bhushan.

Dr TN Khoshoo, TN Khoshoo Memorial Award and Lecture, past winners on
Dr. Triloki Nath Khoshoo (27 April 1927 – 10 June 2002)

Dr TN Khoshoo was co-founder of the Department of Botany at Punjab University, Lahore, in pre partition India, from where he moved to Khalsa College, Amritsar, in 1947. After serving as Chairman of the Botany Department at Jammu and Kashmir University, he joined the National Botanical Gardens, Lucknow, in 1964. By 1978, this institution had developed to become the National Botanical Research Institute under his leadership.

Dr Khoshoo became the author of India’s draft environmental policy, in his role as Secretary of the newly formed Department of Environment, Government of India, in 1982. Later, he joined the Tata Energy Research Institute as a Distinguished Fellow.

Dr Khoshoo authored more than 250 research papers on plant genetics and evolution, biomass, energy, forestry, conservation, and the utilisation and management of natural resources. He wrote seven books and edited eleven others. His book ‘Mahatma Gandhi: An Apostle of Applied Human Ecology’, published in 1996, was widely applauded for its interpretation of the practical relevance of Gandhian views. In 1992 DrKhoshoo was decorated with one of India's highest civilian awards, the Padma Bhushan. He was awarded the Sasakawa Environmental Prize by the United Nations Environment Programme in 1996.

Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) is a research organisation in the areas of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. It was ranked 19th among the top environmental think tanks in the world, as per the 2011 Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program survey carried out by the University of Pennsylvania, USA.

ATREE was established in 1996 by three academics who felt the need of an institution that used science to address the environmental, social and economic consequences of the decline of India’s natural resources.ATREE’s mission is to promote socially just environmental conservation and sustainable development by generating rigorous interdisciplinary knowledge that engages actively with academia, policy makers, practitioners, activists, students and wider public audiences.

ATREE is recognised as a Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India.