Radheshyam Pemani Bishnoi

Young Naturalist Award 2021

Wildlife conservationist, animal rescuer and photographer

A child of desert sands and the scrublands of Jaisalmer, Radheshyam Pemani Bishnoi began rescuing injured animals as a boy. He later apprenticed as a veterinarian and at the Jodhpur Rescue Centre, where he encountered all manner of conservationists and came to recognise the critical status of the Great Indian Bustard, known locally as Godawan. He returned to Pokhran to patrol bustard habitats, creating a protective network of local youth under the guidance of Sumit Dookia and the Ecology, Rural Development and Sustainability Foundation. He regularly visits rail routes, roads and areas lined with high tension electric wires, collisions which are a leading cause of GIB mortality. He regularly photographs the wildlife and the threats they face. He also rescues injured animals, including chinkaras, nilgai and birds including Himalayan Griffons and Cinereous Vultures. His dedication and care for the wild has earned him the respect of his Bishnoi community, famed for their reverence for all wildlife.

As resilient and adaptable as the desert landscape he seeks to conserve, Radheshyam perseveres against all threats to the Thar ecosystem and wildlife. He is a remarkable young conservation leader, and his determination seeds hope for the region’s wildlife resurgence.