If the forests go, we go...
We began this journey with our love for the tiger and its forest home. The more time we spent in the forest the deeper we fell in love with this magnificent animal…The urge to preserve something you love propelled us to act.
We began by supporting the core protection efforts of the forest department in a few of India’s tiger reserves. We soon realised the mammoth task we face to preserve our country’s biodiversity. India is growing at a rapid rate, and with our country's ambitious plans for growth comes the price of loss and irreparable damage to our unique and fragile ecosystems.
We are all so inextricably linked that the truth is very simple- if the forests go, we go...
Today most wildlife survives in the jungles of India that are fast being reduced to isolated pockets. If we are in anyway expecting to make a difference to combat fast shrinking habitats it must be with the support and involvement of local communities living around these sensitive areas. They must be partners and custodians of this natural wealth so that they develop a sense of ownership for the forests and the wildlife they live with.
Conservation Wildlands Trust is a philanthropic initiative with a mission “to protect in perpetuity sensitive habitats by engaging and educating local communities as custodians of their natural environment.”
The Trust aims to spearhead the management of wildernesses through community-participation and use the learnings to influence policy.
Having studied the various conservation models involving local communities worldwide, we feel that the best way to secure the future of the tiger and its shrinking habitat is for private enterprise to get organically involved. We embark on this challenging and exploratory journey with a hope that our efforts will change the very paradigm in the way conservation is done in this country.
Located in the Interpretation Centre at the Turia Gate of Pench Tiger Reserve, Seoni, M.P., the ‘Education Base’ (E-Base) is a space that serves as a classroom and training space. It aims to connect the Forest Department, the local community and tourists visiting the Park with a common link to conservation and sustainability.
It aims to bring together under one roof an exchange of ideas and sharing of information through live interactions, hands-on projects and exhibits.
Community Based Wildlife Conservation
Wildlife conservation cannot be done in isolation. Great successes have been witnessed around the world when communities, governments and organizations come together for the higher objective of ecological wellness. The trust intends to create a symbiotic relation between the communities and wildlife by involving communities surrounding the Pench Tiger Reserve in lucrative conservation and sustainable practices, thus changing the popular opinion of wildlife conservation being a hindrance to progress rather than an avenue of prosperity encircled by a wealth of environmental advantages.
Professor Sir David King
Professor Sir David King was recently appointed by the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom as his new permanent Special Representative for Climate Change in September 2013. He is also Director of Research in Physical Chemistry at the University of Cambridge. He was the Chief Scientific Adviser to H.M. Government under both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and Head of the Government Office for Science from October 2000 to December 2007. He has also served as the Director of the Smith School of Enterprise and Environment at the University of Oxford. He has co- authored “The Hot Topic” and published more than 500 papers on chemical physics and on science and policy. Sir David was knighted in 2003 for his work in science, and received the award of “Officier dans l’ordre national de la Légion d’Honneur” from the French President in 2009 for his work on climate change and on negotiating the international agreement to build the world’s largest technology project, the ITER fusion reactor.
Mr. Subramanian Ramadorai is the Adviser to the Prime Minister in the National Council on Skill Development, in the rank of a Cabinet Minister. He still continues to be Vice Chairman of Tata Consultancy Services Ltd, a company he has been associated with for the past 39 years. As he sits on the boards of various corporations, he is uniquely placed to help strategise India’s move away from the climate change precipice. As Chairman of the Bombay Stock Exchange, he has been pivotal in pushing to recognise companies – irrespective of their size – by their ‘sustainability footprint’ or ‘carbon footprint’. He is a Padma Bushan Awardee for his commitment and dedication to the IT industry. In April 2009, he was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for his contribution to the Indo-British economic relations.
Bittu Sahgal is the founding editor of Sanctuary Asia, India's premier wildlife and ecology magazine. He is a member of the National Board for Wildlife of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (India). He has authored numerous books on wildlife including, most recently: Wild Maharashtra. In addition he has produced various conservation-related documents and head Kids for Tigers, the largest mass-movement of its kind for tigers in India. He is also at the forefront of the battle to protect India from the worst impacts of climate change.
Robert Swan is the founder of the organization 2041. By age 33, he became the first person to walk unassisted to both the North and South Poles. Since then, he has dedicated his life to the preservation of Antarctica by the promotion of clean, renewable energy & sustainable practices to combat the effects of climate change. 2041 runs the International Antarctic Expedition (IAE), where Robert Swan makes young leaders and students from around the world experience first- hand the continent’s fragile ecosystem and encourages them to help preserve the last wilderness on this planet. He was appointed as United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for Youth and Special Envoy to the Director General of UNESCO.
Harsh Piramal heads Morarjee Textiles, PMP Auto Components and Piramal Renewable Energy, all part of the Ashok Piramal Group. Harsh’s passion for photography and wild spaces led him into India’s forests, where his love for the tiger was cemented.
Harsh was initially involved with conservation initiatives. However, realizing the herculean task facing the preservation of our sensitive habitats, Harsh, along with his wife Reshma and mother Urvi, formed the Conservations Wildlands Trust. The aim of the trust is to involve communities living around forests to be part of conservation strategies. The trustees believe that making the community custodians of their natural wealth creates the most impact in the conservation of biodiversity and natural habitats.
Harsh is a B.Sc. (Physics) from Kings College London, graduating in 1995. He obtained a MBA from the London Business School in 1999. Harsh is an accomplished polo player and a keen football player and fan. He is co-founder of Pune Football Club, which plays in the Indian League's top division. Harsh continues travelling to remote locations.
Reshma Piramal is a Developmental Speech & Language Therapist. She has been working with Ummeed Child Development Centre, a not-for-profit interdisciplinary resource for children with developmental disabilities.
Her love for the tiger and India’s forests stems from her time spent there. As a mother she felt compelled and driven to want to help preserve India’s sensitive habitats and biodiversity with a hope to preserve it for future generations. She is a strong believer in ‘action’ and with the support of her husband Harsh and mother-in-law Urvi organised in 2011 ‘Run For The Tiger’ as part of the Mumbai Marathon, with over 500 individuals, school children and corporates running to raise awareness and show support for India’s tigers. Conservation Wildlands Trust was borne from this urge to contribute significantly to conservation initiatives while involving community stewardship.
Reshma is interested in education and how it intersects with the environment. She is particularly interested in how one marries academic necessity with a love and awareness for nature, thus making young people agents for change. She has a Masters degree in Speech and Language Therapy from City University, London. She is a member of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, UK.
Urvi Piramal is chairperson of the Ashok Piramal Group, a fast-growing business conglomerate. She is the guiding force behind the Group’s sustained and profitable growth. The group’s vision is to touch the lives of one in five people around the globe.
As a wildlife enthusiast and someone who enjoys travelling, Urvi has been to several of India’s forests. It was here that she initially began aiding existing conservation efforts. With a shared love for wild spaces and determination to make a difference, Urvi, along with her son Harsh and daughter-in-law Reshma, founded the Conservation Wildlands Trust.
She is also a Trustee of the Piramal Education Trust, Ashok G. Piramal Trust and the Urvi Ashok Piramal Foundation. Through these trusts, Urvi has initiated several projects, including a 25-bed maternity hospital and mobile health vans across 2 states benefiting over 3 lakh people.
She is also on the board of Population First, an NGO working on creating awareness and support for the girl child. She is the recipient of numerous awards for her contribution to business including ‘Outstanding Woman Industrialist’ for her outstanding contribution to business. She has a Bachelor of Science degree and has attended the Advance Management Program at Harvard Business School.
Dr. Anish Andheria is the President of the Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT). He is a conservationist and wildlife biologist of repute. He has been awarded the prestigious Carl Zeiss Conservation Award in 2008. He is a Fellow of LEAD, an international leadership program on environment and development spread across 80 countries. He has also helped set up Kids for Tigers, a nation-wide conservation education programme which currently reaches out to over one million school children. He has co-authored two books on Indian wildlife and has contributed to several other books and publications, including scientific papers. A professional photographer, he has captured some of the most remote wildlife reserves of India. His passion for wildlife also led to him setting up a wildlife rescue centre in Mumbai, which he has been successfully running since the last 20 years.
Subhash Bhawre is the Pench project coordinator for the Education Base (E-Base) program. A resident of the village of Turia, Subash has grown up in the bounty of the forest of Pench—a landscape he keenly wishes to preserve. He has been a guide in the Pench Tiger Reserve for the past 9 years. Having completed his training in Pench and attended various workshops and training programs in Kanha and Bhopal, Subhash has a wealth of knowledge on the forest of Pench. After learning about the E-Base initiative in early 2011, Subhash zealously joined the trust to be a part of such a program that would inculcate a love for their surroundings. The empowerment of the children of Pench for change through education is something he strongly believes in.
Pooja Choksi heads the E-Base Project in Pench Tiger Reserve, M.P. On graduating in Banking, she went to South America to follow her passion—teaching. She spent two years in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia as the youngest teacher at the high school ‘ASPAEN Gimnasio Cartagena de Indias’. A keen advocate of furthering conservation through education, she organized the first ever ‘Earth Hour 60’ congregation in Cartagena in 2011 along with her students to educate citizens about the impact of climate change in the Caribbean. During her time in South America, she travelled extensively; from the Colombian Amazon to the Ecuadorian Andes. Her love for the rustic outdoors brought her home to contribute to the Herculean task of preserving the dwindling pockets of forests in India. She continues to maintain her connection to South America through Capoeira and the development of her Spanish linguistic skills.
Dr. Santosh Tungare is the Project Manager of the trust’s Community Based Wildlife Conservation initiative. He is an environmental scientist with Doctorate in Environmental Chemistry. He specializes in the field of heavy metal toxicology and has been active in the field of environmental pollution control & management for over a decade. He is proficient in designing systems for waste management based on natural principles. He was Assistant Professor at the Centre for Environment and Development, YASHADA (Pune), an apex training institute of the state Govt. of Maharashtra. He is a certified Trainer of Trainer under the DTS program of the DoPT, Govt. of India. He has guided over 60 students for their M.Sc. dissertation and 2 for Ph.D. An amateur birder and wildlife enthusiast at heart, he gave up his active environmental consultancy work of thirteen years and joined the cause.
To donate, please contact Pooja Choksi at email@example.com.