A young Indian biologist, Dr. Aparajita Datta was honoured with the Whitley award, also known as Green Oscar, in London on 2 May 2013. Aparajita Datta, the Indian wildlife biologist was conferred with the award by Princess Anne, daughter of Queen Elizabeth, at the Royal Geographical Society in London for her efforts in order to save the endangered hornbills in Eastern Himalayas.
Aparajita Datta is the head of the program for conservation of the hornbills in dense tropical forests of Arunachal Pradesh, at Nature Conservation Foundation. The tropical forests of Arunachal Pradesh are an abode to five hornbill species. Hornbills are the brightly coloured and curved-beak birds which are catalyst of seed dispersal; these birds remain endangered for the beats as well as feathers by a tribal group, known as Lisu.
Aparajita Datta set up the community-based conservation program along with tribal hunters in order to protect hornbills. The focus of the program was to bring down the poaching activities.
Schools were started by her and the team in order to build the river embankments for checking soil erosion. The team of Aparajita Datta also focused on marketing the handicrafts of Lisu as well as development of the nature tourism, which would in turn facilitate Lisu with better financial gains than poaching.
The Whitley awards are given every year in order to honour exceptional individuals for the efforts in conservation of nature in the developing countries. Aparajit Datta won the award along with eighth other conservationists who belonged to different countries. They shared the prize money worth 295000 pounds.
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