At a time in history where most people are aware of the impact they have on their surrounding environment but unsure what to do about it, leaders are critical to galvanizing communities and nations. Here are some of the environmentalists working tirelessly to raise awareness about actionable ideas that help us move towards a better future.
1. Purnima Barman
Purnima Barman is a famous environmentalist in India who is well-known for her work towards the conservation of the Greater Adjutant Stork- a water bird and its habitat. She has a master's in Zoology, and while working on her Ph.D., Purnima observed that the Greater Adjutant had an image problem with the locals. They didn’t like the bird because of its unattractive appearance, scavenging nature, and foul-smelling nests. She led a number of smart campaigns that raised awareness and encouraged people to change their perception of the bird. Purnima received a number of awards for her efforts, including the 2017 Nari Shakti Puraskar and a Whitley Award.
2. Bano Haralu
Bano Haralu is a former journalist and now an environmentalist who brought to light an alarming issue in the light of the world’s media. The Amur Falcons, a migratory bird that congregated at the Doyang reservoir in Wokha district, Nagaland, were slaughtered in hundreds of thousands every year by hunters. After extensive research into the mass slaughter that took place for their meat, Bano launched the ‘Friends of the Amur Falcon’ campaign with the support of Nagaland’s government and local communities to support conservation activities. Since then, Bano has also spearheaded other conservation initiatives in the state.
3. Saalumarada Thimmakka
Thimmakka, who hails from the Tumkur district Karnataka, is quite an ordinary woman who pulled off an extraordinary feat over her lifetime. Known locally as the ‘mother of trees’, Thimmakka has planted 8000 trees over a period of a few decades. At the age of 40, the woman who contemplated ending her life because she couldn’t conceive started planting trees along the highway with the help of her husband. They cared for the saplings as they would for their own children. Thimmakka, who also went viral on social media, was awarded the Padma Shri in 2019.
4. Jadav Payeng
Jadav Payeng, who hails from Assam, is a famous environmentalist in the country. His work which spanned several decades led to the establishment of a lush forest on the sandbar of the Brahmaputra River. Named ‘Molai’ forest after his middle name, the forest covers an area of 1,360 acres. Jadav, who is also lovingly called the Forest Man of India, was honoured with the Padma Shri in 2015.
5. Sumaira Abdulali
Sumaira Abdulali is an environmentalist who tackles the modern-day problems faced by conversationalists and activists with a different approach. Through her public campaigns, debates, advocacy, and legal interventions, she has brought to light many of the previously overlooked hazards such as noise pollution and destruction through sand mining. She also set up a network to protect activists from the sand mafia. Sumaira Abdulali is currently a governing member of the Bombay Natural History Society and is considered one of India’s foremost environmental activists.