Sanctuary Nature Basis honours conservation hero S Theodore Baskaran with Sanctuary Lifetime Service Award 2020 for his function in wildlife conservation and his persevering with legacy of writings in Tamil and English to the conservation discourse
Author, historian, naturalist, and activist, S Theodore Baskaran sounds hopeful as he will get speaking about conservation. “There may be extra consciousness amongst individuals, which is an efficient factor. Tigers and leopards have been protected, peacocks have multiplied and we’ve got lots of of sanctuaries offering a secure haven for wildlife,” he says, and hastens so as to add, “However, there isn’t a denying the truth that the disruption of surroundings has been taking place in a scientific method.”
Theodore is the winner of this 12 months’s Sanctuary Lifetime Service Award, instituted by the Sanctuary Nature Basis’s Sanctuary Wildlife Service Awards, for his dedication to wildlife conservation and his writing prowess in English and Tamil that contribute to the conservation discourse. And, for uplifting younger naturalists alongside the best way.
He believes that for any conservation initiative to achieve momentum as a individuals’s motion, the discourse needs to be within the native language. Theodore is prolific in Tamil and a few of his Tamil works embody Vaanil Parakkum Pullelam (The Wings that Measure the Skies, Uyirmmai Padippagam, 2012) and Kal Mel Nadandha Kaalam (After I Walked Alongside the Rocks, New Century E book Home, 2017) .
“In rural areas, individuals stay a lot nearer to wildlife than metropolis dwellers and it’s important for this dialogue to be held of their language,” he explains and offers an instance: “ In Chennai, the estuary of the Adyar river that draws 1000’s of migrant birds, together with flamingos, each winter was dredged to facilitate boating. And, nobody appeared to note. This motivated me to jot down in Tamil on points surrounding Nature conservation. Consider the Save Silent Valley motion. It was profitable largely as a result of the complete discourse was in Malayalam.”
For his nature writings in Tamil, Theodore was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award (Iyal Virudhu) by the Canada Literary Backyard in 2014 at Toronto. His books in English embody The Dance of the Sarus: Essays of a Wandering Naturalist (Oxford College Press, 1999); The E book of Indian Canine (Aleph, 2017) and extra not too long ago, in 2020, A Day with the Shama: Essays on Nature (Zero Diploma Publishing, 2020). Moreover conservation, he has written on artwork, historical past, and movies, in each English and Tamil.
Theodore says it was his time on the Madras Christian School campus (a 400-acre scrub jungle that supported a tremendous variety of wildlife, together with birds) that sparked his curiosity in hen watching. So did his childhood in Dharapuram, close to Coimbatore. He elaborates: “At nightfall, the orange sky could be dotted with birds returning to roost. Nature was half and parcel of our lives. We knew which snakes to keep away from, and which birds and animals lived round us. That’s how I developed a bond with the pure world.”
His pursuits in birds and wildlife finally led him in the direction of conservation. “The conservation motion has taken a backseat within the globalised period. Mining initiatives, river interlinking and dams disrupt the surroundings. River Amaravathi, the longest tributary of the Cauvery that flows via Udumalpet, Dharapuram and Karur in Tamil Nadu, thrived with freshwater crocodiles, the endemic mahseer, and freshwater prawns. The place are the species now? Building of dam blocks the circulation of river. Tourism has by no means been good for wildlife,” he says with a tone of disappointment.
From land to land
He says his years within the Civil Companies are memorable. He was posted to varied components of the nation, the Northeast, Gujarat, Bengal and explored wildlife havens throughout India.
“In 1985, I did a one-year course on the Nationwide Defence School and that carried me to Mauritius and the USSR. At Blackwood Forest, a patch of authentic forest in Mauritius, I noticed the Mauritius kestrel that was nearly extinct with solely 10 or 15 birds left. I sat in a bush patiently and the hen confirmed up. It was unforgettable. I additionally undertook a two-month course in Japan and in 1996 acquired a United Nations project in Kenya, the place my wildlife goals got here true,” he recollects.
He recollects travelling in Mizoram within the Nineteen Seventies: “I noticed a troop of Hoolock gibbons. The apes resemble gray langurs, however with small tail and longer palms, and have been jet black in color.” He wrote a brief notice about it within the Journal of the Bombay Pure Historical past Society. It attracted the eye of the Worldwide Primate Safety League (IPPL) in North Carolina and he grew to become their South Indian consultant, a place he held for 10 years.
Theodore is 80 now, and says he’s nonetheless in need of time. “I learn and write and provides talks. We now have to spend money on conservation. Have a look at what surrounds you, bushes, birds, butterflies… it’s an extremely stunning world. There may be Nature proper inside your own home within the type of leaping spiders and lizards. We now have no proper to destroy any tiny creature.”