Mumbai: Imran Siddiqui of the Wildlife Conservation Society - India has been honoured with the prestigious Sanctuary Wildlife Service Award 2018.
Imran Siddiqui has come a long way from raising and selling poultry to fund his wildlife obsession. He is now on the Telangana State Board for Wildlife and works as an external expert for tiger monitoring in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. He is also the Assistant Director for Conservation Science at WCS-India, and the co-founder of the Hyderabad Tiger Conservation Society (HyTiCoS).
As his life and work reveal, Imran has no respect for man-made boundaries, much like the wildlife he’s so obsessed with. Traversing the rugged landscapes of Kawal, Amrabad and Nagarjunsagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserves and the Gundlabramheswaram Sanctuary, he works in tandem with state forest departments and local communities. His work covers 10,000 sq km of wilderness in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, with his crew comprising over 35 field staff, 300 volunteers and hundreds of supporters.
Taking a cue from the success of WCS-India in Karnataka and extending it to the neighbouring states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, he leads scientific surveys on prey analysis and occupancy surveys on mammals. He also helps in management planning, engages in snare removal drives, initiates voluntary relocation programmes for forest dwellers, facilitates capacity building workshops for the forest department and influences policy through public interest litigations, high-level committees, community engagement, strong advocacy and creating political will on wildlife.
His efforts have resulted in the speedy disbursal of compensation, besides the initiation of relocation of landless tribals who live within the two tiger reserves of Kawal and Amrabad.
Imran is also largely credited for the declaration of the Kawal Tiger Reserve (where he conducted the fieldwork for his Masters dissertation). For this he had to lobby relentlessly at the political level as well as work tirelessly on the ground to counter misinformation spread by vested interests, and finally win the support of local communities.
A tenacious man on the field and a convincing man in the boardroom, Imran Siddiqui is in no small way responsible for the revival of tigers in this vast but obscure landscape.
The Sanctuary Wildlife Service Award 2018 is a testimony of his untiring efforts to save wildlife and wild places.