Wildlife Service Award (2000)
Bivash Pandav started his work on sea turtles along the coast of Orissa in 1994. Working with the Wildlife Institute of India he soon established a long-term research and monitoring programme to gauge the health of turtle populations that come ashore to nest each year. To know more about their habits, Bivash and his team tagged 2,000 mating pairs and 10,000 nesting turtles over the past four years at the Ekakulanasi Islands. The data they gathered on mortality rates on account of poachers and trawlers forced the state and central governments to take immediate steps to protect these marine reptiles. Pandav’s team now regularly covers the entire Orissa coastline four times in every season. In the process they have unearthed vital information on the inter-rookery movement of turtles and their breeding and nesting behaviour. The method devised by Pandav to count nesting turtles during the arribada, has been included in the Marine Turtle Specialist Group’s Manual of Sea Turtle Techniques. His work has saved a very significant turtle population from extinction. By initiating Operation Kacchappa, which relies on the involvement of local people, his team has replicated the Orissa initiative on an all-India basis. His work, started in a small but systematic way, has been nothing short of inspirational and has been recognised by international and national conservation groups and governments around the globe.
Read more about him in this interview.