The International Union Of Conservation Of Nature (IUCN) is conducting an online poll inviting people to vote for their ‘Heritage Heroes’. The site has selected three individuals for their exemplary work in the field of conservation and ecosystems. One of the three individuals shortlisted is Mr Bibhuti Lakhar of Manas Wildlife sanctuary, the sanctuary was listed as a natural world heritage site in 1985 due to its exceptional biodiversity and ecosystems which provided critical habitat to rare and endangered species.
Mr Prabal Kr Das in his words has detailed the work and efforts taken by Bibhuti for the purpose of conservation and development of the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary. He talks about how Bibhuti who came as a student to the sanctuary and committed himself to preserving and betterment of the ecosystem by forging relations and building bonds with all stakeholders for the betterment of the sanctuary. One of the tangible outcomes of his efforts according to Mr. Prabhas words is that Manas Wildlife Sanctuary has been taken off the list of world heritage site in danger from 2011.
Some of the other accolades and appreciation Mr Prabal gives to Mr Bibhuti in his testimony to his work includes:
1. Bibhuti held dozens of public meetings in which locals were made aware about the value of Manas as a natural World Heritage site and as an ecotourism destination. While Bibhuti sought help from local communities, he was also resolved to empower youths to gain opportunities for sustainable livelihoods. With no external aid available, he singlehandedly motivated about 100 youths to learn the basics of wildlife monitoring and act as tour guides. Today they are engaged in ecotourism ventures and support their families.
2. He played a critical role in the rehabilitation of surrendered poachers, enabling them to lead a dignified and socially meaningful life and his team trained around 600 members of local grassroots NGOs, including ex-poachers who now act as protectors of Manas.
3. He focused on women and offered them regular income opportunities. More than 100 ‘self-help groups’ were formed, encouraging women to engage in alternative livelihoods such as food processing, weaving, and fishery. This came as a succor in an area where income avenues were scanty.
4. He oversaw the installation of a 14-km long electric fence to safeguard around 1,000 economically weak households from elephant depredation in a buffer area of the World Heritage site. No causality of humans or elephants was recorded since it was installed in 2013.
5. He played the leading role in connecting Manas Wildlife Sanctuary with the Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan. Now a system of transboundary wildlife monitoring supports management in the entire Manas natural area that spreads across India and Bhutan. He also conducted the first GIS surveys of the park, which became a critical component for drawing the management plan for the site.
Among many other tributes and appreciation were given to the work Bibhuti. The Logical Indian appreciates the efforts of Bibhuti and other conservationists who have been listed and we wish all of them good luck.
Cast your vote to choose the prestigious World Heritage Hero, one among the three nominees is a low profile Indian conservationist Dr. Bibhuti Prasad Lahkar.