For the second time in his distinguished career, Dr. Charudutt (Charu) Mishra, the Snow Leopard Trust’s Science and Conservation Director and a trustee of India’s Nature Conservation Foundation, is among the nominees for the Indianapolis Prize, one of the world’s most prestigious conservation awards. The nomination recognizes Charu Mishra’s outstanding contributions to snow leopard science, community conservation, and global cooperation towards protection of Asia’s great mountains.
Press release, 08/31, 2015 — Seattle, WA / Mysore, India
“To be nominated for this prestigious award alongside many of the world’s leading conservationists is a great honor”, Charu Mishra says. “It is above all a testament to the outstanding work done by the dozens of scientists, students and community members in snow leopard habitat that I’ve had the privilege of working with.”
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. He has since published more than 70 influential research papers on wildlife and human ecology and conflict mitigation. He most recently co-authored a watershed paper about the impacts of international cashmere trade on wildlife across Asia.
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 widely-replicated model of incentive-based grassroots conservation.
More recently, he worked with colleagues in Kyrgyzstan to conceptualize and initiate an anti-poaching program to be implemented in all protected areas of the country in partnership with INTERPOL.
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.
A Key Figure in Snow Leopard Conservation
Charu Mishra joined the Snow Leopard Trust in 2001 as the India Country Director, and in 2008 took over the responsibility to lead and manage snow leopard research and conservation across India, China, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan, the top five snow leopard range countries.
In 2002, he was involved in helping establish the Snow Leopard Network, a worldwide alliance of over 500 individuals and institutions dedicated to the exchange of information towards snow leopard conservation. Charu became the Network’s Executive Director in 2010.
In 2012 Dr. Mishra was invited to help facilitate an initiative of the President of Kyrgyzstan and the World Bank’s Global Tiger Initiative to unify conservation efforts across all 12 snow leopard range countries.
Charu was pivotal in helping draft the Bishkek Declaration for Protection of the Endangered Snow Leopard and the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP)—a strategy that has catalyzed all 12 snow leopard range countries to commit to increasing snow leopard protection across 500,000 km2 of core snow leopard habitat.
Bringing an outspoken and unwavering voice for local communities, Charu helped ensure that the Bishkek Declaration and GSLEP explicitly recognize the rights of local communities and the important role they play in wildlife conservation across snow leopard range.
A Champion of Community-Centered Conservation
Charu is recipient of the Whitley Gold Award (2005) and the Golden Ark Award (2008), and India’s T.N. Khoshoo Award for Outstanding Contributions in the field of Conservation. He serves on the Editorial Boards of the Journals Animal Conservation and Oryx, and is a member of the IUCN’s Cat Specialist Group.Today, his outstanding work and commitment are further recognized by his second straight nomination for the prestigious Indianapolis Prize.
“It’s heartening to see so many community conservation practitioners among the nominees for this important award”, Charu says. “I firmly believe that the future of wildlife conservation lies in building true partnerships with the communities that live alongside the endangered species we seek to protect. The major challenge we face is to find ways to align the legitimate interests of these rural communities – to make a safe and sustainable living – with the equally legitimate interest of conservation, which is to safeguard the planet’s biodiversity. I hope the Indianapolis Prize will contribute to advancing this concept.”
Snow Leopard Trust:
The Snow Leopard Trust, based in Seattle, WA, is a world leader in conservation of the endangered snow leopard. www.snowleopard.org
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. www.ncf-india.org
Dr. Mishra’s work is supported by the Whitley Fund for Nature.