Sanctuary Award for conservationist Imran Siddiqui

NEW DELHI: Hyderabad-based conservationist Imran Siddiqui has been honored with this year’s Sanctuary Wildlife Service Award, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has said.

Siddiqui, who is an Assistant Director for Conservation Science at WCS-India monitors tiger in 10,000 sq km, including Nagarjunasagar Srisailam, Amrabad and Kawal Tiger Reserves, and corridors connecting to Tadoba and Tirupati Forests.

This is India’s most prestigious award, the WCS said.

Siddiqui has come a long way from raising and selling poultry to fund his wildlife obsession and is now on the Telangana State Board for Wildlife, and works as an external expert for tiger monitoring in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, a WCS statement said.

“Traversing the rugged landscapes of Kawal, Amrabad and Nagarjunsagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserves and the Gundla Bramheswaram Sanctuary, he works in tandem with state forest departments and local communities.Sanctuary Award for conservationist Imran Siddiqui

“He covers 10,000 sq km of wilderness in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh with his crew of over 35 field staff, 300 volunteers and hundreds of supporters,” the statement said.

His efforts have resulted in 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,” it said.

It pointed out that with his core skills in field surveys and GIS tools, Siddiqui sees the imperative need to build local capacity of the frontline Forest Department staff and other civil society stakeholders to carry out effective conservation and conducted over 72 workshops covering around 2,400 frontline staff in the past 18 years.

“In addition to his technical expertise, Imran uses his strong liaisoning skills to motivate media groups, lawyers, political leaders and general public for conservation of tigers and their habitats. These skills always help in effective conservation,” said Prakriti Srivastava, Director, WCS India Program. PTI