Protectors of Nature

2015 was a bad year for the champions of green. According to a report released by the watchdog group Global Witness, as many as 185 environmental defenders were killed last year. They were involved in peaceful protests against indiscriminate exploitation of natural resources – such as mining, illegal logging, seizure of lands of indigenous people, among other issues.

An environmentalist is someone who champions the cause of environment, leads movements to protect Nature, to conserve biodiversity or someone who voices against human activities that lead to exploitation of resources. Let’s take a look at some of the notable people associated with the environment.

Salim Ali

Called the Birdman of India, Salim Ali (1896 – 1987) was among the first Indians to conduct survey of birds in India. India Bird Count is being organised in honour. He was a lover of birds from childhood and he took special interest in observing them and their behaviours. He studied birds of India and Pakistan and wrote a number of books. He was instrumental in establishing the Bharatpur bird sanctuary and helped save the Silent Valley National Park. Some species of birds have been named after him.

Sunderlal Bahuguna

Sunderlal Bahuguna led the powerful Chipko Movement, a forest conservation movement in India that began in 1973. A follower of Gandhian principals, Sunderlal Bahuguna led a 5000-km march in 1981 in support of the protection of certain areas in the Himalayan forests. He also spearheaded the Anti- Tehri Dam for years against the setting up of the dam on the Bhagirathi River near Tehri in Uttarakhand. The protest was against the displacement of 10,000 people and environmental consequence of the fragile ecosystem.

Al Gore

Al Gore is an American politician, who served as the Vice-President of the United States under the former President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 2001. Gore is the founder and current chair of the Alliance for Climate Protection, which is involved in creating awareness on climate change. Gore strongly pushed for the passage of the Kyoto Protocol, which called for reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. His work in climate change activism earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall, a British primatologist, is considered to be the world's foremost expert on chimpanzees. Goodall conducted a 55-year study of social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees in Tanzania. She has worked extensively on conservation and animal welfare issues. In 1977, Goodall established the Jane Goodall Institute and she has been championing the cause of protecting chimpanzees and their habitats. She has also written a number of books for children.

Romulus Whitaker

Romulus Whitaker was instrumental in establishing a network of rainforest research stations in India. An Indian herpetologist (who studies amphibians and reptiles) and a wildlife conservationist, Whitaker founded the Madras Snake Park and the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust. In 2005, he won the Whitley Award for outstanding leadership in nature conservation and he used this award to found the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station in Karnataka, for the study of King Cobras and their habitat.

Recommended for you