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NE Indian conservationists Nuklu Phom & Bibhuti Lahkar shortlisted for Whitley Awards 2021

GUWAHATI: Two grassland conservationists from Northeast India — Assam’s Bibhuti Lahkar and Nagaland’s Nuklu Phom — have been shortlisted for the prestigious Whitley Awards 2021. Notably, they are the only two conservationists from India who have been shortlisted for the prestigious award. Every year, six grassroots conservationists are honoured with Whitley Awards.

Lahkar, who is a senior scientist at Aaranyak, a society for biodiversity conservation in Northeast India, is renowned for his research into the grassland ecosystems in Assam.

Phom, on the other hand, is a leading conservationist in Nagaland who is the team leader of Lemsachenlok (an organization that has been working for bio-diversity conservation since 2007).

Lahkar did his PhD on the grasslands of Manas National Park with special reference to Pygmy hog. The Lemsachenlok organization, led by Phom, was honoured with India Biodiversity Awards in 2018 for their work in the conservation of wild species.

His research work covers the man-elephant conflict in grassland ecosystems of Manas National Park and Kaziranga National Park in Assam.

“If I am selected for the award, I will funnel the money into my research so that the long-running conflict between the man and elephant can be resolved. We hope to solve the issues that are currently plaguing Assam,” Lahkar said, talking to Inside Northeast.

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Following a comprehensive assessment, the top 15 candidates have been identified, “all doing incredible work with communities to safeguard wildlife, habitats and the future of society,” the Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN) said on its website. Altogether, 106 candidates had sent their applications.

While Bibhuti Lahkar has been shortlisted for the award for “Building bridges between people and Asian elephants”, Nuklu Phom has been shortlisted for “Establishing a biodiversity peace corridor.”

The other shortlisted conservationists include Risper Oteke from Kenya, Sammy Saafari from Kenya, Carlos Roesler from Argentina, Iroro Tanshi from Nigeria, Tatiana Arias from Colombia, Tulsi Subedi from Nepal, Rita Ratsisetraina from Madagascar, Joseph Onoja from Nigeria, Lucy Kemp from South Africa, Reynante Ramilo from the Philippines, Ransford Agyei from Ghana, Wahdi Azmi from Indonesia and Pedro Fruet from Brazil.

The winners of this year’s Whitley Awards will be announced on May 12.

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