Wildlife Service Awards (2005)
An engineer and a defender of birds, K. Manu moved to Kokkare Bellur in 1994 to help villagers protect a large pelican nesting site near their homes and fields. He is of the view that winning the cooperation of villagers wherever possible should be a key long-term strategy to protect wildlife. In Kokkare Bellur, he has chosen to work with children, whose committment to the task at hand also helps win the support of their parents. With close friends and supporters and a shoe-string budget, they started an organisation called Mysore Amateur Naturalists, or MAN. Something worked. Kokkare Bellur is now one of the five most important pelican nesting sites in India. Manu’s socio-environmental strategy seems to have worked. Not only are they securing the future of the birds, but in the process the quality of health and the economic security of villagers is also on the rise. Youngsters protect the nests, look after fallen fledglings, seek the cooperation of their elders to keep the tanks and lakes that the pelicans need to survive clean and stocked with fish. Interestingly, all these efforts are also resulting in a higher fish catch for small-scale local fishermen around Kokkare Bellur. In Manu’s words, every pelican we save moves us a little way away from the abyss. In caring for his birds, he cares for the Earth.