Dr. Charudutt (Charu) Mishra, the Snow Leopard Trust’s Science and Conservation Director and a trustee of India’s Nature Conservation Foundation, is among an elite list of nominees for the 2014 Indianapolis Prize, one of the world’s most prestigious conservation awards. The nomination recognizes Charu Mishra’s outstanding contributions to endangered species conservation in the Himalayas.
press release, 08/28, 2013 — Seattle, WA / Mysore, India
For Charu Mishra, wildlife conservation has always been as much about caring for humans as it was about animals. What may appear unusual for a wildlife biologist is only natural for Charu: “The people who share the habitat of snow leopards and other endangered species can be a threat to these animals, but they are also our most important partners in protecting them”, he explains.
While studying to be a wildlife biologist in his native India, Charu grew convinced that effective conservation needs to be people-centered. He began focusing his research on the interactions between wildlife and people in the Indian Himalayas; producing several landmark research papers on the complexities and ecological impacts of human natural resource use and conflicts throughout his career.
While remaining firmly rooted in the scientific community, Charu has always been committed to applying the results of his research in the very communities he was studying. For example, when he found out that many herders felt they had no choice but to retaliate against snow leopards—one of the most iconic predators for India’s high altitudes– Charu worked with them to create India’s first community-managed livestock insurance program, which has since become a model of incentive-based grassroots conservation.
In 1996, Charu co-founded Nature Conservation Foundation, an influential NGO promoting science-based and socially-responsible wildlife conservation in India, and established the organization’s High Altitudes program. In 2001, he joined the Snow Leopard Trust as the India Country Director; eventually, in 2008, taking over the responsibility to lead and manage the organization’s snow leopard research and conservation across India, China, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan, the top five snow leopard range countries. Since 2010, he has also served as the Executive Director of the Snow Leopard Network, a worldwide alliance of over 500 individuals and institutions dedicated to the exchange of information towards snow leopard conservation.
Charu Mishra is recipient of the Whitley Gold Award (2005) and the Golden Ark Award (2008), as well as India’s T.N. Khoshoo Award for Outstanding Contributions in the field of Conservation. Today, his outstanding work and commitment are further recognized by his nomination for the prestigious 2014 Indianapolis Prize.
For Charu, the nomination is both an honor and an opportunity: ”Growing human pressures are pushing many species towards extinction in India, and indeed across Central Asia. Yet, I believe there is hope for snow leopards and other endangered high altitude wildlife if we work together. I hope that this nomination for the Indianapolis Prize will facilitate even more collaboration with local people and raise awareness for community-focused conservation”, he says.
Snow Leopard Trust:
The Snow Leopard Trust, based in Seattle, WA, is a world leader in conservation of the endangered snow leopard.
Nature Conservation Foundation:
Based in Mysore, India, Nature Conservation Foundation contributes to the knowledge and conservation of India’s unique wildlife heritage – from coral reefs and tropical rainforests to the high mountains of the Himalaya – with innovative research and imaginative solutions.
Dr. Mishra’s work is supported by the Whitley Fund for Nature.