Divya Mudappa And T R Shankar
Wildlife Service Awards (2009)
For their exceptional contribution to wildlife biology, particularly in the human-dominated landscapes adjoining Protected Areas in the Western Ghats.
They have studied hornbills, small carnivores and bird communities in the Western Ghats and have documented the destruction wreaked by human agriculture on thin forest soils. They have also watched as ill-advised industrial projects and monoculture plantations replaced the Annamalai and Valparai rainforests that India so desperately needs, if we are to have any chance of countering the worst impacts of climate change. None of this has been able to dissuade these gifted scientists from their mission to understand and protect the ecology of the Western Ghats. “Protected Areas now resemble ‘doughnuts’, they say, “with privately owned plantations of tea, coffee and cardamom forming central blanks, ringed by the fabled biodiversity of the Western Ghats.” Yet more plantations, they add wistfully, surround these PAs causing havoc in the fragile forests. Divya’s Ph.D focussed on the ecology of small carnivores and Shridhar’s (as Shankar Raman is called), on bird communities in the Western Ghats. Both confirm that the region is deteriorating so rapidly that it might soon be unable to sustain human communities. To further their mission they launched the Nature Conservation Foundation at Mysore and have published several peer reviewed papers in national and international journals.