Dr. Erach Bharucha

Lifetime Service Award
Protectors of wild habitats who have been in action for decades, inspiring millions, sparking movements, unearthing natural history knowledge, building conservation strategies, and shaping communities…

Dr. Erach Bharucha
Environmental educator, conservationist, photographer, surgeon

Sitting pillion on Dr. Sálim Ali’s bike and whizzing about to discover Baya Weaver colonies, a young boy in Pune rode into a lifelong passion for the natural world. He grew to become an architect for environmental education and conservation, shaping the lives of thousands, and protecting the wildlife and ecosystem he was extraordinarily passionate about. Alongside, but just as dedicatedly and with deep commitment, he became a surgeon, a surgery teacher, and administrator of two major hospitals! At the age of 80, with over five decades of wildlife conservation under his belt, he honoured the Sanctuary Nature Foundation by accepting its Lifetime Service Award 2023 for his commitment to wild India and for being a straight-talking spokesman for Earth’s biosphere and its connection with the quality of human life.

The self-effacing Dr. Erach Bharucha stands tall yet humble among his peers, students and friends as he continues his journey as an environmental educator and conservationist. He has variously served on multiple committees and organisations. including the National Tiger Conservation Authority, the Central Zoo Authority, WWF-India, Sálim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History, Wildlife Trust of India, and more.

Persuaded by his inspiration, Dr. Sálim Ali, Dr. Bharucha served in various capacities on the management board of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) for decades. In the process, he contributed greatly to conservation research projects on diverse species including flamingos, rusty spotted cats, blackbuck, wolves, and the critically endangered Great Indian Bustard, and its vanishing grassland habitats. Down the years, he found himself specialising in environment education, biodiversity management, land use planning, forestry, and even zoo planning and management.

A critical juncture in Dr. Bharucha’s life was the birth of the Bharati Vidyapeeth Institute of Environment Education and Research (BVIEER), which he developed from the ground up, designing its programmes and its ecologically sustainable campus. As the Director of BVIEER, Dr. Bharucha nurtured, literally, thousands of students and teachers who are now practitioners in the field of environmental conservation, all with a healthy blend of theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience.

As the Head of the Department of Surgery at the Bharati Vidyapeeth Medical College, he has played a significant role in highlighting the connection between good environmental practices and human health. And as if this were not enough, Dr. Bharucha is an accomplished photographer and a prolific author who has published several books, using his own images shot by his trusty camera that accompanied him to dozens of India’s finest wildlife sanctuaries and national parks. As a virtual shadow of Dr. Sálim Ali, for most of his life, he learned the value of keeping detailed notes on locations and these were what he turned into articles and papers, too numerous to count, in national and international publications.

One contribution he is exceedingly proud of is his academic textbook on environmental education, now translated into eight different languages! This has now been guiding undergraduates for over a decade. Childlike himself, he has penned several children’s books including his delightful three-volume Wonders of the Indian Wilderness and the immensely readable Sálim Ali: The Charismatic Birdman. In characteristic fashion, the proceeds from the sale of this book go to the children of long-serving staff of the BNHS, which has been his life.

Dr. Erach Bharucha continues to leave an imprint on people, institutions, policies, India’s landscape, and all our hearts.

For his unwavering commitment to conservation education, his love of the wilds, and his undiminished passion for the natural world, we salute him.