TN: Ramanathapuram FRO Sathish Bags International Ranger Award 2021
The award was given to Satish, Forest Range Officer for his efforts in marine conservation in the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park, Palk Bay.
Ramanathapuram Forest Range Officer S Satish Prakriti, who loves the environment. Awareness of forests and tree planting started at an early age. In the same spirit, Satish considers it his good fortune to have the opportunity to be a Range officer in the forest department. Expressing happiness at receiving the award in his words…
“My house is at Talawadi, close to the Satyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary in Erode. As a child, I enjoyed watching wild animals. I have many opportunities to communicate with forest officials. By the time I finished school, I wanted to work in the forest, ”said Satish, a graduate of the Mettupalayam Forest College and Research Institute.
The 35-year-old is now in the news for winning the International Ranger Award 2021, issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Switzerland, World Commission on Protected Areas, International Ranger Federation and Global Wildlife Conservation and Conservation Allies, for his work in marine conservation at the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park and Palk Bay region. “It is awarded to 10 officials across the world. This is the first edition of the award and I am honoured to be selected from 600 entries from 100 countries.” Other than Sathish, Mahindra Giri, a range officer from Rajaji Tiger Reserve, Uttarakhand, has also won it from India.
Satish started his work at the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park four years ago and has been involved in growing 100 acres of mangrove forest and maintaining another 100 acres in the Palk Bay region. “Mangroves help to maintaining the water quality in the area by filtering the sediments and other pollutants through its roots. It also helps to reduce the effect of cyclones and other natural disasters. Now, the area is home to hundreds of birds such as sandpipers, grey herons, kingfishers, black-winged stilts and common greenshanks.”
He is also part of the national park’s scuba diving team. Explains Satish, “This is the only such team that belongs to the Forest Department in India. It was set up in 2017 under the guidance of the Wildlife Warden. We received seven days of training and now go under the sea once a month to assess and maintain the coral reef, sea grass and also to clean the coastal areas.”
One of the problems still faced by the department is the illegal poaching and killing of wild animals. “Migratory birds, turtles, sea cows, sea cucumbers, etc fall prey to it. Since 2017, I have booked around 110 cases under this. Taking strict action has helped bring down the number of such offences over the years.”
The prize involves a uniform patch and a cash prize of $10,000 for the Forest Department to support his works there. Sathish was nominated by K Sivakumar, a senior scientist from Wildlife Institute of India, for this award. “I have worked with him (Sivakumar) on several projects and I had the confidence to win this award,” he concludes.