Santosh Lalji Yadav
Young Naturalists (2008)
All of 22 years old, Santosh Yadav is one of Mumbai’s recognised naturalists who not only studies, but protects the fragile habitats that dot the landscape of this megapolis. Wise beyond his years, he is able to identify a bewildering range of species, elaborating easily on their taxonomic classification and even the roles they play in the ecology of their habitats. Santosh’s interest in and study of trees began at the age of 16 when he found himself indifferent to formal education at the level of SSC and HSC. But the moment he was able to focus on subjects that were close to his heart, his academic genius emerged. Waking at three a.m. to run a family business supplying milk in the city, he made time for his precious botany books and was able to complete his post-graduate degree in Angiosperm taxonomy with flying colours. Nothing makes him happier than spending time in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) and this was the arena for his M.Sc dissertation, the study of major fruiting trees in the park. Under the tutelage of Dr. Marselin Almeida, one of India’s finest botanists, he is currently documenting the flora of the Roha taluka in the Raigad district, and of Nasik where he has already listed an astounding 1,500 species of plants. He is also working on the plant biodiversity of Dediapada taluka in Narmada district. Together with Dr. Almeida, Santosh has re-classified two plants – Phrynium cannaefolia and Atlantia acidissima, a remarkable achievement, given his youth. His hunger for knowledge is insatiable, for Santosh now plans to register for his Ph.D. under Dr. Almeida. India needs young people such as him and Sanctuary intends to keep its readers posted on his future adventures.