Prestigious honour for Hyderabad wildlife activist
Prestigious honour for Hyderabad wildlife activist

The prestigious Sanctuary Wildlife Service Award 2018 has been conferred to city based wildlife conservationist Imran Siddiqui of the Wildlife Conservation Society India Program on Friday at Mumbai. Imran’s story is one of braving all odds to follow his passion. From raising and selling poultry to fund his wildlife obsession to being on the Telangana State Board for Wildlife, an external expert for tiger monitoring in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the Assistant Director of Conservation Science at WCS-India and the co-founder of the Hyderabad Tiger Conservation Society (HyTiCoS), it has been a roller coaster ride in his pursuit of tiger conservation. 

Traversing the rugged landscapes of  Kawal, Amrabad and Nagarjunsagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserves, Gundlabramehswaram Sanctuary he works in collaboration with the State Forest Departments, local communities and his crew of over 35 field staff, 300 volunteers and hundreds of supporters covering over 10,000 sq. km. of broken chain of wilderness in Telangana and A.P.  Learning from WCS-India’s success of Karnataka and extending it to neighboring Telugu states, he leads scientific surveys on prey analysis, occupancy surveys on mammals, helps in management planning, engages in snare removal drives, initiates voluntary relocation programmes for forest dwellers, facilitates capacity building workshops for the forest department and influences policy through public interest litigations, political will, high-level committees, community engagement and strong advocacy. 

His efforts have seen the effective implementation of compensation schemes by the government and the initiation of a voluntary relocation for  landless poor tribals who live within the two tiger reserves. Imran is also largely credited for the declaration of the Kawal Tiger Reserve (where he conducted the fieldwork for his Masters dissertation under the mentorship of Dr Ullas Karanth and Dr Samba Kumar) for which he not only lobbied at a political level but also worked tirelessly for on the ground – countering misinformation spread by vested interests to win the support of local communities.
Imran has been working with the Forest Departments and other government agencies facilitating conservation efforts in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana region, for 15 years. Among his numerous achievements include facilitating upgradation of the 890 sq km Kawal Wildlife Sanctuary to a Tiger Reserve (TR) spread over 2016 sq km. He also played a significant role in the expansion of Nagarjunasagar Srisailam TR (NSTR) from 3600 sq km to 6000 sq km. With the creation of Telangana, part of NSTR is now Amarabad Tiger Reserve in the new state.  In 2001, Imran and his brother Asif Siddiqui founded the HyTiCoS (Hyderabad Tiger Conservation Society) mobilising a group of enthusiastic volunteers for conservation of tigers and other wildlife in the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh region.

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