These young women have a pulse of the environment like few others. Specialists in their fields, from marine biology to building more varieties in horticulture, meet eight Indian women environmentalists who are an asset to the world as we know it today.
Dr Krithi Karanth
She is an environmentalist and a leading conservation scientist. Her area of focus is research ways in which humans and wildlife can co-exist peacefully. Holding a PhD in Environmental Science and Policy from Duke University and an M.E.Sc from Yale University, Krithi Karanth’s research about wildlife conservation in India spans over 20 years of studying human impact on the environment. Most of her work takes place in the Western Ghats, which is home to a variety of flora and fauna.
Karanth has published more than 90 scientific and popular articles and a children’s book. Karanth served on the editorial boards of Conservation Biology, Conservation Letters, and Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. She is one of the prominent environmentalists.
Jis Sebastian, a conservation ecologist who fought gender discrimination and stayed all alone in the forest to promote the environmental revolution. She works with plants and animals to help preserve and save the environment. She specialises in the distribution pattern of orchids in the Western Ghats. She has studied the distribution of epiphytic orchids to understand and elaborate on how their environmental conditions can indicate climate change. Sebastian is working on a project to restore orchids in Wayanad, Kerala.
Nandini Velho, a trained field biologist whose main purpose in life is to protect the biodiversity of the world and save the planet. Velho’s determination and quick wit for conservation is appreciable and she has left no stone unturned to achieve it. With a Master’s degree in conservation biology from the National Centre for Biological Sciences and Wildlife Conservation Society under her belt, and a doctoral degree from Australia’s James Cook University. Nandini is undoubtedly the face of modern conservation in India.
Dr. Purnima Devi Barman
Dr Purnima Devi Barman is one of the most prominent environmentalists and popularly known and ‘’Hargila baido”. She is a conservation biologist with the NGO, Aaranyak, in Assam. She has been conferred with Nari Shakti Purashkar by the President of India which is the highest civilian award for Indian women.
Purnima is the founder of a group called “Hargila army” which provides a voice to rural women as protector of the tree and she has organized over 200 local women into this army to implement Hargila conservation. She now has 400 rural women as members into the group to voice for nature. Her immense dedication has given the communities a voice and she has set up a model for community conservation by building strong ownership.
From the beaches of Madras to those of Honolulu, Yadav has made a good long and inspiring journey. Her fascination for everything underwater was triggered by a dive in the blue Andamans when she got eye to eye with marine life. For her Masters from James Cook University, she did a thesis on box jellyfish and spent hours every day studying them.Shreya Yadav is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa. Her research is focused on trying to understand how corals resist and recover from climate change.
There are many youngsters who are taking up conservation as their career choice, and Yadav has some words of wisdom for all of them. She says, “Volunteer widely and spend time in places you find interesting.
Tiasa Adhya is a young conservationist and wildlife biologist. Adhya is a recipient of the Nari Shakti Puraskar from former President Pranab Mukherjee and the Wildlife Service Award from the Sanctuary Nature Foundation for her work on fishing cats. She is the co-founder of ‘The Fishing Cat Project’, the longest-running research on fishing cats.
“We believe in conservation becoming a societal decision. We strive to engage with people from different sections and design conservative approaches. For instance, a small goat bank project was initiated by the community in which pregnant goats were given to economically backward on the condition that they would kids to neighbors who had lost goats to fishing cat,” she said in an interview with SheThePeople. Read the detailed interview with her.
Suprabha Seshan is an environmentalist and an Earth Studies graduate from the British Open University. She is also an educator at the Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary. They focus on finding and protecting the most horticulturally challenging and endangered plant species. It aims at the importance of nurturing existing links between people and their environment. Suprabha Seshan moves away from conventional theories about the simple conservation of existing landscapes and emphasizes on their healing and restoration instead.
Suprabha Seshan was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2005, Suprabha is the spokesperson of the Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary and has received the 2006 Whitley Award (UK’s top environmental prize).
Conservationist Neha Sinha focuses on how we need to make the environment an everyday issue and not wait for June 5th to celebrate. Sinha Works on environmental advocacy and policy at BNHS. She undertakes conservation advocacy for threatened species and sites across India, with an emphasis on Important Bird Areas; and she also coordinates the Amur Falcon conservation program.
She works on creating policy positions and briefs for BNHS, and has taught environmental policy at Delhi University. Neha is also an environmental writer.