Winners of Sanctuary TOFTigers Wildlife Tourism Awards 2014

Sanctuary and TOFTigers are delighted to announce the winners for the Sanctuary TOFTigers Wildlife Tourism Awards on 19th September 2014

Competition was fierce and we would like to congratulate all who were nominated for their dedication to eco tourism and conservation. The winners and runners up are truly outstanding in their fields and fully deserve this recognition for their work, when the very best in India and Nepal needs highlighting to all.

The Winners and Runners up in each Award Categories for 2014 are:-

International Wildlife Tour Operator of the Year 2014

International Wildlife Tour Operator of the Year 2014

Over a decade long commitment to tiger conservation has ensured Wildlife Trails leads by example in specialist nature tourism today in India. With its own NGO, The Tiger Trails Foundation, it provides direct support to communities around Ranthambhore, works with expert local guides and is applauded for its attention to detail and local knowledge in organising tours. The owner continues to set high ethical standards across all his nature tour programmes ensuring profit is not put before conservation principle. A long time supporter of TOFTigers, Wildlife Trails also has 5 stars from AITO for sustainable tourism.

Contact: wildlifetrails@gmail.com

RUNNER UP: Natural World Safaris, UK
International Wildlife Tour Operator of the Year 2014

Natural World Safaris are wildlife specialists with the conservation of species and habitats a cornerstone of their responsible travel policy. Their dedicated support of TOFTigers and carefully crafted itineraries that go beyond the run of the mill ensure that their actions match their words as a tour operator. High quality client service and in-depth knowledge of their destinations combined with their dedication and funding to conservation ensures both destinations survive and visitors return year after year.

Contact: kate@naturalworldsafaris.com

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Lodge Naturalist of the Year 2014 (also carries INR 25,000 prize)

Award sponsored by Mysteries of India
WINNER: David Raju, Forsyth Lodge, Satpura, Madhya Pradesh
Lodge Naturalist of the Year 2014

An abiding passion for the small things, from frogs to butterflies, and his beloved dragonflies, ensures that he is called upon by forest staff to help ID numerous species and work alongside the Satpura park’s Field Director. David is a researcher and well published naturalist in his specialist fields. He is hailed as one of the most enthusiastic and inspirational naturalists in India, an excellent communicator inspiring all ages, and his neighbouring communities with his passion for wildlife. Many visitors ask for him by name when on safari.

Contact: davidraju2007@gmail.com

RUNNER UP: Ram Din Mahato, Karnali Lodge, Bardia, Nepal
Lodge Naturalist of the Year 2014

One of Nepal’s finest, in a long list of exceptional naturalists over the last few decades, from the terai belt of this country, Ram Din maintains the Nepalese traditions of service and offers nature education to guests and locals alike. A naturalist for 35 years with Tiger Tops following in his father’s footsteps, this veteran tracker reads the forest like most of us peruse a newspaper. Widely praised by visitors and celebrities alike, he is also an active speaker at conservation seminars and is an Ayurvedic practitioner with an extensive knowledge of plants, flora and fauna.

Contact: jack.baucher@tigertops.com

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The Billy Arjan Singh Memorial Award for Wildlife Guide of the Year 2014 (also carries INR 20,000 prize)

Award sponsored by Indian Wildlife Experiences
WINNER: Ramesh Suyal, Corbett, Uttarakhand
The Billy Arjan Singh Memorial Award for Wildlife Guide of the Year 2014

An outstanding local guide who has gone the extra mile to use his passion to enthuse others - visitors and community alike - about wildlife and conservation. Harbouring the basis of responsible tourism, putting more back than he takes out – he has helped to bring employment to other local drivers, guides and businesses. A proportion of his earnings are given to assist with local projects such as improving local schools and educating local children about the value of wildlife. Organised, pleasant and cheerful with an infectious enthusiasm for wildlife, Ramesh is a credit to his profession.

Contact: ramesh_naturalist@live.com

RUNNER UP: Hemraj Meena, Ranthambhore, Rajasthan
The Billy Arjan Singh Memorial Award for Wildlife Guide of the Year 2014

A local resident of Bhuri-Pahari village whose love of wildlife is reflected in the way he communicates to guests and supports the work of the park, especially his own village community where his professional example and success has paved the way for others to follow. A regular assistant to numerous wildlife photographers and field assistant to renowned film maker Nalla Muthu, Hemraj is a role model of how local communities have benefitted from wildlife tourism opportunities, but also how these individuals have repaid their debt with wildlife conservation support.

Contact: hemraj2000@yahoo.com

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The John Wakefield Memorial Award for Most Inspirational Eco Lodge of the Year 2014

The John Wakefield Memorial Award for Most Inspirational Eco Lodge of the Year 2014

Orange County in Kabini is an excellent lodge, with an Outstanding PUG eco rating. Inspired by local architecture, its management have set about ensuring that everything it does ensures harmony for its many visitors and yet respect for its environment, situated as it is on the shores of the Kabini river beside Nagarhole Tiger Reserve. In addition to high quality hospitality and service, an active involvement with its local farmers ensures good relationships with its neighbours and innovative thinking and planning has meant it set aside acres for a butterfly sanctuary, a unique interpretation centre and local cooperative for selling locally made handicrafts to its visitors.

Contact: info@orangecounty.in

JOINT WINNER: Kipling Camp, Kanha, Madhya Pradesh
The John Wakefield Memorial Award for Most Inspirational Eco Lodge of the Year 2014

Kipling, one of the oldest wildlife lodges in India set up by some of the pioneers in India conservation world, is unusually a charity. Once a bare patch of land on the borders of Kisli in Kanha in the 1980’s, it is now a forest of trees and yet a haven of old world hospitality, in which wildlife and birdlife once again flourishes. Decades of hard work have won the owners unique support amongst its local tribal communities, earning this lodge huge respect locally and opening doors to critical wildlife protection intelligence nobody else can match.

Contact: info@kiplingcamp.com

JOINT RUNNERS UP: Forsyth Lodge, Satpura, Madhya Pradesh
The John Wakefield Memorial Award for Most Inspirational Eco Lodge of the Year 2014

Set upon 44 acres of once denuded and overgrazed farmland near the reservoir bordering the hills of Satpura Tiger reserve, the lodge owners sought early on to ensure the sustainable development of tourism pursuing a pioneering partnership approach with park management from the outset of their operations. Today it stands as testimony to both restoration of its own habitat, where deer once again graze on sweet grasses and the value of partnership that ensures its visitors a myriad of ways to enjoy the park and its surrounding forests, without compromising either comfort or hospitality.

Contact: info@forsythlodge.com

JOINT RUNNERS UP: Reni Pani Lodge, Satpura, Madhya Pradesh
The John Wakefield Memorial Award for Most Inspirational Eco Lodge of the Year 2014

Built using the local architectural materials on over 30 acres of land, it’s a superb example of clever construction, that combines comfort with environmental harmony, incorporating its accommodation units amongst the teak forest, and ensuring space for wildlife with its seasonal river and a waterhole. Its owner’s heritage hotel background has helped deliver first class service, but with an extraordinary commitment to conservation and community. Together with the joint runner up, it must be applauded for continuing to ensure the health and welfare of this park, its buffer forests, local communities, all whilst ensuring a fabulous nature experience.

Contact: info@renipanijunglelodge.com

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Visitor Friendly Wildlife Destination of the Year 2014 (also carries a prize of INR 75,000 worth of kit or equipment to be used in tiger protection/conservation)

Award sponsored by Ashok Piramal Group
WINNER: Satpura Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh
Visitor Friendly Wildlife Destination of the Year 2014

Satpura has set an extraordinary example in its approach, planning for tourism early in its opening to visitors, working in partnership with tourism owners, seeking alternative activities to the usual game drives, and enabling canoeing, camping safaris and guided walks in some of Central India’s most fabulous landscape. Today some of its greatest successes come from its efforts to rehabilitate buffer forests using visitors on night drives to monitor activities, and day time bike rides in the buffer areas. The park is a superb example of how with vision and foresight one can offer nature travellers exceptional experiences in the natural world, while enhancing conservation objectives.

Contact: dirsatpuranp@moforest.org

JOINT RUNNERS UP: Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh
Visitor Friendly Wildlife Destination of the Year 2014

With management committed to better visitor experiences, spreading tourism further and thinner across Kanha’s landscape has ensured much better wildlife experiences, alongside guiding that has improved and become more knowledgeable over the years. Visitor comments applaud not only the wildlife experience and beauty and tranquillity of the forest, but the helpful and dedicated staff and lack of litter. Interpretation including a museum and film shows raise awareness about biodiversity and wildlife conservation.

Contact: dirkanhanp@mpforest.org

JOINT RUNNERS UP: Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra
Visitor Friendly Wildlife Destination of the Year 2014

Apart from the enormous strides in its conservation and village relocation efforts, Tadoba should be applauded for its focus on its buffer zones where it is committed to offering a range of nature based activities giving local communities new employment opportunities. More than 65 Village Eco-Development Committees have been established in the buffer zones to reduce dependency on forest resources. Under development are specially created wildlife routes, a year round opening policy, 100 kms of walking trails and a newly launched lake canoe safari. Forest hides and a new Machaan are also been created.

Contact: garad5@yahoo.com

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Wildlife and Tourism Initiative of the Year 2014 (also carries a prize of INR 50,000 towards equipment/services for the benefit of the community)

Wildlife and Tourism Initiative of the Year 2014

Working against conflicting forces, SAI is an example of where passion, hard work and the dedication of two people, Dr and Mrs Malhotra, in restoration and conservation have ensured nature has survived over the desire to extract and exploit. Dubbed Noah’s Ark due to its rich biodiversity, and growing from 55 acres of land purchased in 1991 to over 300 acres today, this not for profit sanctuary serves the dual purpose of protecting the rapidly vanishing biodiversity of the Western Ghats and encouraging its visitors to value nature. Also used for wildlife rescue, rehabilitation and release, its positive influence is felt in the bordering Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary. Providing a powerful inspiration for others, in the battle to help reconnect fragmented forest pieces which play such a vital role for wildlife and water supply, it’s a first class example of how conservation combined with ecotourism can play its part in India’s nature conservation efforts.

Contact: saisanctuary@gmail.com

RUNNER UP: Pench Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra
Wildlife and Tourism Initiative of the Year 2014

Supported by exceptional forest leaders, the Field Director and his team have set about restoring an unloved and forgotten sanctuary that will one day be the pride of India. Clever conservation efforts, common sense and cross border support from its neighbouring Pench park in Madhya Pradesh, will ensure Pench Maharashtra and its new protected landscapes is becoming a key source destination for a large population of tigers in the future and a prime visitor attraction. Fifteen new protection camps in the buffer zone, grassland areas to increase the herbivore prey base, camera trap training for ground staff, and new gates for tourism providing employment to local youth are amongst the improvements. Wild Clicks, a national photography competition and Kids for Tigers National Camp with Sanctuary Asia and NDTV-Aircel are examples of inspiring events hosted by the park.

Contact: fdpenchnagpur@hotmail.com

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Wildlife Promotion Company of the Year 2014

Wildlife Promotion Company of the Year 2014

Since 2009, this wildlife safari operator, together with its five wilderness lodges - which started as far back as 1986 - has helped put India firmly on the world map as an unparalleled nature tourism destination. Since its foundation, it has based its ethos on a strong sustainable tourism foundation. Together with its five lodge operations in Madhya Pradesh all of which pass the PUG eco certification, and overall team employing over 150 people, it has also pioneered wildlife camping and walking safaris into buffer zones and supported long term research through its dedicated Conservation Cell into buffer forest restoration between Panna and Bandhavgarh. Additional activities include wildlife photo contests held in 2013 and 2014 with 1,500 entries, and more than 4,000 votes and 10,000+ likes, a Wildlife Diary and Wildlife Quiz with more than 350 entries, and social media activities to promote nature and responsible practice.

Contact: manav@pugdundeesafaris.com

RUNNER UP: Jungle Travels India
Wildlife Promotion Company of the Year 2014

With a strong commitment to running ecologically sensitive and culturally responsible tours in North East India and further afield, Jungle Travels India is also renowned for its award winning Diphlu River Lodge, a superb eco-rated lodge in Kaziranga, and pioneering, award winning long-distance wilderness cruises along the Brahmaputra, Ganges and Hugli Rivers run by its sister company. Jungle Travels’ efforts ensure visitors get a real in-depth insight into these regions, as well as contributing to efforts in a sustainable and active travel format.

Contact: jti_tours@rediffmail.com

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Wildlife Tourism Related Community Initiative of the Year 2014 (also carries a prize of INR 50,000)

Wildlife Tourism Related Community Initiative of the Year 2014

An outstanding NGO dedicated to wildlife conservation, forest dependent communities and environmental sustainability founded by the owner of Infinity Resorts. Operating out of Infinity’s premises in Corbett, Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Kaziranga, The Corbett Foundation has engaged more than 350 villages in initiatives bringing new ecotourism related business and employment opportunities, celebrating local culture, giving support to local communities and raising awareness of a myriad of issues from wildlife conservation and renewable energy to cattle vaccination and health and hygiene. This award recognises its great efforts in a range of areas including skills development amongst almost 1500 local men and woman, bordering tiger reserves over the last two years. A renowned ecotourism community-linked organisation working at a grass roots level to help build a world where man and nature live in harmony.

Contact: kgore@corbettfoundation.org

RUNNER UP: Smiling Tusker Elephant Camp, Manas, Assam
Wildlife Tourism Related Community Initiative of the Year 2014

Take a state with an ancient tradition of working with elephants, India’s second largest population of captive elephants and a now vastly depleted working demand for these gentle giants and you have the roots of this initiative. Small and aspirational in its vision to act as an old people’s home for working elephants, Smiling Tusker Elephant Camp is an ecotourism venture managed by local youth. Operating next to Manas Tiger Reserve, which has suffered its political ups and downs, this small NGO nevertheless remains positive in its role providing support for redundant elephants, their mahouts and the local community.

Contact: nayan_162003@yahoo.co.in

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