T S Subramaniya Raja
Wildlife Service Awards (2013)
T.S. Subramaniya Raja had decided he would be a crusader for wildlife way back when he received the first prize in a nature-themed drawing competition conducted by the Forest Department of Tamil Nadu. Born in Rajapalayam in the foothills of the Western Ghats, his love for wildlife developed organically and he launched the Wildlife Association of Rajapalayam (WAR) for Nature in response to the mindless damage he saw being inflicted on a landscape he loved.
His conservation work is focused on the southern Western Ghats, principally through advocacy, nature education and research. A natural leader, he was instrumental in stopping the construction of a new road which threatened to cut clean through a portion of the Srivilliputur Grizzled Giant Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary. He won the support of farmers for the protection of the squirrels and played a key role in exposing on-going illegalities in tiger habitats in the proximity of Rajapalayam.
Raja firmly believes that educating young people is key to the future of the forests and wildlife of India. He reaches out to thousands of students, teachers and people from all walks of life through nature education programmes and emphasizes the importance of our wildlife and their forest homes.
On being presented with a ‘Special Conservation Award’ at the M. Krishnan Centenary Year Celebrations in 2012 at Bengaluru, he explained the rationale for the acronym ‘WAR’ by stating that nothing less than a war could protect the forests of India that were being lost. He said that he would not rest until this battle was won.
For this, we honour him.