Meet Purnima Devi Barman, UN’s Champions of the Earth Award Winner

Purnima Devi Barman
Wildlife biologist Dr Purnima Devi Barman was awarded the United Nations (UN) Environment Programme’s ‘Champions of the Earth’ for 2022.

Barman won the award along with four others from different countries for their transformative action to prevent and reverse ecosystem degradation.

She received the award in the Entrepreneurial Vision category for leading the Hargila Army, the all-female conversation initiative.

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Who Is Purnima Devi Barman?

  • Dr Purnima Devi Barman is a wildlife biologist hailing from Assam, India. She is best known for her work in conservation.
  • Barman is best known for her conservation work with the greater adjutant storks, which are locally known as the Hargila.
  • She founded the Hargila Army, an all-female conservation initiative. The group has more than 10,000 members and aims to remove obstacles that hamper the conservation of greater adjutants.
  • For her conservation efforts, Barman received the Whitley Award and the Nari Shakti Puraskar.
  • The Whitley Awards are held annually by the Whitley Fund for Nation (WFN) and the award recognises the celebrates grassroots conservation leaders.
  • Barman was awarded the Nari Shakti Puraskar in 2018. It is the highest civilian award for women and is presented by the President of India.
  • Barman has a Masters in Zoology with a specialisation in Ecology and Wildlife Biology from Gauhati University in Assam.
  • She delayed finishing her PhD research in order to focus on community conservation education in rural villages in Assam.
  • She worked as a Senior Wildlife Biologist in biodiversity conservation NGO Aaranyak. Barman worked in the Avifauna Research and Conservation Division.
  • Barman is also a director at Women in Nature Network (WiNN) India and a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Stork, Ibis and Spoonbill specialist group.
  • In 2007, Barman witnessed a person cutting down a tree containing a greater adjutant’s nest with nestlings inside. She learned that the bird has a bad reputation due to its scavenging nature, foul-smelling nests, and unattractive appearance.
  • She led multiple conservation campaigns and presented conservation messages during street plays, community dances, and religious functions.
  • She also lead education campaigns which used games and activities to educate them on the ecological importance of the greater adjutant.