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Four Conservation Trailblazers Receive the Habitats Trust Grants 2021

Ayushi Jain receives Conservation Hero Grant for Rs. 15 lakhs to work for her conservation work in Kerala focused on  the Cantor’s Giant Softshell turtle,  one of the largest freshwater turtles in the world.

Kochi: The Habitats Trust, founded by Roshni Nadar Malhotra, Chairperson of HCL Technologies, today announced the recipients of The Habitats Trust Grants 2021. The Habitats Trust Grants is an annual initiative aimed at securing India’s biodiversity by bolstering efforts of conservationists on-ground by bridging the resource gap and providing critical support to make their work more sustainable. 

Ayushi Jain received the Conservation Hero Grant (Rs 15 lakhs) to work for the conservation of Pelochelys cantorii, commonly known as the Cantor’s Giant Softshell turtle – one of the largest freshwater turtles in the world. The species is highly threatened due to many anthropogenic activities like poaching and habitat destruction and is at the risk of extinction. Ayushi has been granted the Conservation Hero Grant for her project to create baseline ecological data and drive community-based conservation efforts of this highly rare species in the Chandragiri river and Valapattanam river region in northern Kerala.

Congratulating the winners, Ms. Roshni Nadar Malhotra, Founder & Trustee, The Habitats Trust said,

“At the recently concluded COP-26 in Glasgow, world leaders recognized the interlinked relationship between biodiversity and climate crises. Protecting, conserving, better managing, and restoring our world’s critical flora and fauna is a key to securing human existence and requires concerted efforts from all stakeholders. Passionate conservationists in our country have been doing this work despite the many challenges triggered by the pandemic – including rising cases of poaching and shrinking funding.”

“The Habitats Trust Grants is our effort to partner with some outstanding organizations and individuals who are doing laudable work in conserving threatened ecosystems and species. The Grants not only support these breakthrough conservation efforts, but our teams continuously work with the recipients to help capacity build and set up governance structures, making them ready to secure future funding”, she further added.  

While The Habitats Trust awarded full financial grants to one recipient in each category, other finalists were also awarded 10 percent of the grant amount in their respective categories, to ensure that their efforts and work is recognized.

The four recipients of the Grants were chosen from a total of 10 finalists by an eminent jury that included – Bahar Dutt, Wildlife Biologist, Author and Environmental Journalist; Brian Heath, Founder and CEO for the Mara Triangle Conservation Area, Kenya; Dr. M. K. Ranjitsinh, Wildlife Expert and architect of the WildLife (Protection) Act of 1972, and Roshni Nadar Malhotra, Chairperson HCL Technologies and Founder and Trustee, The Habitats Trust.

The Habitats Trust Grants’ recipients were selected through a rigorous five-stage process that took into account the expected impact, relevance and scalability of the project; the applicants’ capacity to deliver and finally the long-term sustainability of their proposed work post the two-year grant period. The Trust received over 4200 registrations this year and chose 10 finalists after conducting a thorough evaluation and due diligence by an external auditor. The Habitats Trust Grants team also visited the finalists’ project sites across the country to assess the scope and potential conservation impact of the applicants’ proposed projects.  

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