The Assam-based ecologist and conservation activist Bibhuti Lahkar has won prestigious environmental award ‘Heritage Heroes Award’ of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). He was presented this award at the IUCN’s ongoing World Conservation Congress in Honolulu, Hawaii. With this, he became the first Asian even to win this prestigious environmental award.
The wildlife conservationist has dedicated his achievement to Manas and also to the local communities living around the national park. Lahkar has been working to save the grasslands, flora and fauna of Manas National Park area for over last two decades and is currently engaged as Manas Landscape Administrator for Aaranyak, an NGO working for biodiversity conservation in northeast India. As a consequence of his efforts, Manas was listed as a World Heritage Site "in Danger" (1992-2011) and it was during this period when Lahkar formulated a vision for Manas with support from the locals. He was also instrumental in connecting Manas Wildlife Sanctuary with the Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan.
He also conducted the first GIS survey of the park and his research findings and recommendations are a critical component in the Manas Tiger Conservation Plan.
On receiving the award, he thanked all who helped him along the way and said he felt humbled and honoured by the recognition for his work. “Today I am delighted and honoured to get this award. I have dedicated this award to Manas World Heritage Sites and local communities living around Manas," he said.
Lahkar was among five conservationists across the globe to be nominated for this year's Heritage Heroes Award, aimed at recognising "outstanding efforts" around the world in making a difference in the conservation of World Heritage sites in challenging situations.
The IUCN’s Heritage Heroes Award aims at recognising “outstanding efforts” of persons around the world in making a difference in the conservation of World Heritage sites in challenging situations.