Vivek Menon, Founder, Executive Director and CEO of Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), has been awarded, for the second time, the prestigious Whitley Continuation Funding Award on October 23, 2018. For over two decades, Mr Menon who is also the Senior Advisor to President, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)has been at the forefront of wildlife conservation efforts not just in India but worldwide.
The Whitley Fund for Nature is a nature conservation charity that provides funding, training and recognition to support conservation leaders in developing nations. Established by Edward Whitley OBE in 1993, the Whitley Award has completed 25 years and over the period has funded 200 conservationists across 80 countries that need immediate conservation action.
Mr Menon first received the Whitley Award for a project focusing on ‘Monitoring of Elephant Poaching and Ivory Trade in India and Asia’ in 2001. Within a decade, in 2009, the Whitley Continuation Funding Award supported him to initiate a process to secure priority wildlife corridors linking critical elephant habitats in North East India.
This year, yet again, the Whitley Continuation Funding will provide support for ‘Right of Passage: Connecting landscapes, Empowering People and Conserving Asian Elephants in India’. WTI has identified 101 elephant corridors across 11 states of India of which 28 such corridors lie in the southern part of India that this award will help protect.
To address the issues related to habitat fragmentation and degradation, and increased incidences of Human-elephant conflict in the landscape of Southern India, WTI plans to establish a monitoring and protection mechanism for Elephant Habitats and Corridors through a participatory approach. This funding will help deploy a cadre of about 15 local organizations/individuals designated as ‘Green Corridor Champions’ across 28 corridors in Southern India. The Green Corridor Champions will form a part of an already existing nation-wide network of such teams deployed across other corridors in India. They will act as mobilizers and motivators by coordinating the actions of relevant stakeholders to build social fencing and groundswell in order to secure the elephant corridors and facilitate the Right of Passage for elephants, ensuring all the corridors remain functional for elephants to move through .