It is not often that the term can be used without hyperbole, but Mr Ashok Kumar was a legend. He made several game-changing contributions, particularly in the battle against the illegal trade in wildlife and its derivatives, during the course of a conservation career spanning five decades. He was founder-director of TRAFFIC India, a consultant to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) between 1992 and 1997, represented India at CITES delegations for over 25 years, and served on the Steering Committee of Project Tiger and the National Co-ordination Committee for Prevention of Wildlife Crimes. He was also a member of the IUCN’s Cat Specialist Group and Asian Elephant Specialist Group. In 1998 he helped set up the Wildlife Trust of India, an organisation he would nurture and mould for the next 18 years.
For the last half a century, Dr MK Ranjitsinh has been at the forefront of shaping conservation strategies for not only the flagship species but also for key habitats in India. One of his greatest contributions to wildlife conservation was the framing of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, that laid the foundation for India’s wildlife movement. He was the Member Secretary of the task force that put together Project Tiger.
Mr Ajay Balram is a business manager who was formerly Managing Director of Tate & Lyle Investments (India) Pvt Ltd. Having spent long years in the industry, he brings a vast expertise in management and finance to WTI. Mr Balram is also an Olympic judge in yachting and a well known theatre personality of Delhi. He represented South & Central Asia on the Council of International Sailing Federation (the apex body for the sport of sailing) for eight years and was awarded the ISAF Silver Medal for ‘Services to the Sport of Sailing’. He has had a long term interest in wildlife conservation.
Mr Prasad Menon has over 40+ years of diverse experience in some of the premier multinational and Indian companies. He served as the MD at Tata Chemicals, and subsequently with Tata Power. Presently, he is Director on a number of Tata Boards and is also Chairman of the Board of Tata Singapore Airlines Joint Venture Vistara. Apart from his Board responsibilities, Mr. Menon is actively involved in various advisory committees in the areas of Academics, Sustainability & Corporate Governance.
Dr PC Bhattacharjee is a respected academic and a retired Professor of Gauhati University. He pioneered wetland studies, primatology and biodiversity studies in north-east India. He is a member of several governmental and state committees on wildlife conservation including the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA), State Biodiversity Board (Assam), State Wildlife Board (Assam) and the Regional Empowered Committee (North East), MoEFCC, GoI. He is also an erstwhile state level cricket player and was a member of the state Ranji Trophy selection committee.
Vivek Menon is a wildlife conservationist, environmental commentator, author and photographer with a passion for elephants. He is the Founder, Executive Director and CEO of the Wildlife Trust of India as well as Senior Advisor to the International Fund for Animal Welfare. He advises the Indian government on natural heritage conservation as a part of several committees including the Project Elephant Steering Committee, National Wildlife Action Plan Committee and the CITES Advisory Committee. Internationally, he is the Chairperson of the IUCN SSC Asian Elephant Specialist Group and a member of the Species Survival Commission of the IUCN. He is also the author or editor of ten wildlife books, scores of technical reports and more than 150 articles in various scientific and popular publications.
Mr Elias George, IAS, is Chairman of KPMG’s Infrastructure, Government and Healthcare practice (IGH). He was formerly the Managing Director and Additional Chief Secretary of Transport of Kochi Metro Rail Limited and also served as its Director. As a senior IAS officer he held positions in several departments in the State as well as in Central Ministries. He retired from the Indian Administrative Service on October 31, 2016. Mr George has also served as Official Part Time Director at Cochin Shipyard Limited representing the government of Kerala, and has served on the boards of Central Government PSUs like SAIL, RINL and MSTC.
Mr Kirloskar began his career in the erstwhile Kirloskar Cummins Ltd (now Cummins India) before moving to Cummins Diesel Sales and Service as CEO. Later he moved to Kirloskar Oil Engines Ltd and has been there in various leadership positions and is currently the Executive Chairman of the company. Besides this, Mr Kirloskar is the chairman of Kirloskar Ferrous Ltd and a board member of Kirloskar Pneumatic Ltd and Kirloskar Industries Ltd. He is a member of the World Economic Forum and was the President of the Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA), Pune. He also served as the chairman of the CII National Committee of Defence.
Professor Choudhury is an Executive Trustee and the Principal Investigator of Aquatic Projects at WTI. A retired scientist from the Wildlife Insitute of India, he is a professional trainer and teacher in the field of wildlife conservation and resource management, and has trained wildlife managers, biologists and sociologists for over 30 years. Professor Choudhury is also the Regional (Asia) Co-chair of the IUCN-SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group (MTSG) and Crocodile Specialist Group (CSG). He is a member of the IUCN-SSC Cetacean Specialist Group, the Freshwater Turtle and Tortoise Group, and the Conservation Breeding Specialist Group.
Eminent media personality, Mrinal Pande has vast experience spearheading several prominent governmental and non governmental bodies. She is India’s first woman Chief Editor of a multi-edition Hindi daily (Hindustan , Hindustan Times Group) and is former Chairman of India’s national broadcaster – Prasar Bharati. She was awarded the Padmashree in 2006 for her services in the field of journalism, the Red Ink Lifetime Achievement Award by the Mumbai Press Club in 2014, and a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Press Council of India in December 2016.
Dr Raman Sukumar is well known as the elephant expert of Asia. He is a professor at the Indian Institute of Science Bangalore and has authored popular and acclaimed books on the Asian elephant. He is also an Honorary Director of the AERCC. Dr Sukumar was Chairman of the IUCN SSC Asian Elephant Specialist Group, and is currently Steering Committee member of Project Elephant, GOI. He is also a member of the National Board for Wildlife.
Tara Gandhi worked for the biodiversity conservation programmes of several national and international organisations: Commonwealth Secretariat, London, MS Swaminathan Research Foundation, WWF and National Biodiversity Authority, also serving on committees of BNHS-India, Sάlim Ali Centre for Conservation & Ornithology, Madras Naturalists’ Society, and the Institutional Ethics Committee of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT-M). She conducted extensive status studies of Protected Areas all over India, including in the Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep islands. The author of books as well as scientific and popular articles on birds and ecology, she is engaged in ornithological and wildlife surveys and works with volunteers for nature conservation.