Winners of 2012 TOFT Wildlife Tourism Awards

TOFTIGERS are delighted to announce the winners for the TOFT Wildlife Tourism Awards on 14th September 2012

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, especially in light of the present tourism ban, when the very best in India needs highlighting to all.

The Winners and Runners up in each Award Categories for 2012 are:-

Best International Tour operator for Wildlife of the Year 2012

Best International Tour operator for Wildlife of the Year 2012

Cox and Kings focus heavily in a number of well publicised campaigns and good tour itineraries to many areas of India with the focus on wildlife and accompanied by top naturalists and experts. They have been an active part of TOFT for over seven years including supporting the training of park guides in Madhya Pradesh and sponsoring training of 500 drivers in Madhya Pradesh.

Contact: jessica.cater@coxandkings.co.uk

RUNNER UP: Sawadee, Netherlands
Best International Tour operator for Wildlife of the Year 2012

Sawadee are the front runner in sustainable tourism in the Netherlands and are active members of TOFT as well as supporting the guide training programme.

Contact: saskia.Griep@sawadee.nl

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Best Lodge Naturalist of the Year 2012

Award sponsored by Tiger Nation
WINNER: Rajesh Bhatt - Jim’s Jungle Lodge - Corbett
Best Lodge Naturalist of the Year 2012

At 40 Rajesh Bhatt is an extraordinary guide and conservationist who is almost entirely self-taught and is presently taking a Masters course in environment and ecology from Manipal University. He has great botanical knowledge, is a good birder and his passion for conservation sees him teaching and training forest guards and panchayat heads. He runs ecotourism courses across India. He set up his own NGO that help train fellow guides and school kids called 'Rainbow'.

Contact: rajeshbhatt0@rediffmail.com

RUNNER UP: Shukra Kumal - Ken River Lodge - Pench
Best Lodge Naturalist of the Year 2012

Shukru Kumal is 52 years old and has been working as a naturalist for the last 28 years. He started his working life Tiger Tops where for over 20 years he established himself as an expert bird guide. For the last 8 years at Ken River Lodge, Panna, he has become an authority on birds, insects, reptiles, grasses and trees. He is involved in numerous training programs, census and resource operations in Panna.

Contact: manav@pugdundeesafaris.com

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Best Tourist Related Community Initiative of the Year 2012

WINNER: Prakratik Society, Ranthambhore
Best Tourist Related Community Initiative of the Year 2012

The Prakratik Society is a registered charitable society, founded by Goverdhan Singh Rathore . For the past 20 years the society has been working with local communities living around the Ranthambhore National Park providing health care, education, afforestation, dairy development and alternate energy all aimed to encourage sustainable co-existence of people with the local environment.

Contact: info@prakratiksociety.org

RUNNER UP: Shakti Himalayas (Utterakhand, Sikkim and Ladakh)
Best Tourist Related Community Initiative of the Year 2012

Shakti's leads responsible tourism initiatives in the form of village walks and leased and restored home visits in the remote Himalayan belt in India. Its ecofriendly tourism in these vulnerable areas, gives financial and practical help back to the local communities in which they works with responsibility and dignity.

Contact: soumya@shaktihimalaya.com

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Best Wildlife Promotion Company of the Year 2012

WINNER: AndBeyond India
Best Wildlife Promotion Company of the Year 2012

AndBeyond is run by naturalists and experts who had their roots in wildlife and guiding with a real sensitivity to Eco Tourism. They have had the benefit of a large organisation to promote them, but have used this to help put India on the map as a wildlife destination, across the globe.

Contact: reinee.ghosh@andbeyondindia.com

RUNNER UP: Royal Expeditions
Best Wildlife Promotion Company of the Year 2012

Established in 1993, Royal Expeditions has become a specialist in the wildlife sector, developing a range of specialist, inventive, imaginative and pioneering trips as well as wildlife study tours with its international clients.

Contact: vishal@royalexpeditions.com

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Best Wildlife/Tourism Initiative of the Year 2012

Award sponsored by Ultimate Travel Company
WINNER: Wildernest, Goa
Best Wildlife/Tourism Initiative of the Year 2012

Wildernest have created a large 450 acre private sanctuary, a vital Tiger corridor between Mahdei Wildlife in Goa and the Bhimgad Wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka, and now they are trying to get their Swapnagandha Valley designated as part of these Tiger Reserves. Originally saved from mining interests, these areas have become tiger corridors and Wildernest presence has helped stitch back this area and curbed poaching threat over a period of time.

Contact: ophidian_nirmal@yahoo.co.in

RUNNER UP: Pugdundee Safaris & Ken River Lodge, Madhya Pradesh
Best Wildlife/Tourism Initiative of the Year 2012

Shymendra Sharma built Ken River Lodge in Panna 25 years ago. Starting off by regenerating 50 acres of wheat fields into healthy forest, Ken is now a haven for wildlife and despite setbacks and catastrophes’ there is now a healthy population of Tigers again. Shymendra has been a major instigator in making sure that the local communities benefit from the presence of Ken River Lodge with guide training programmes, village school projects and now setting up walking safaris in critical tiger corridors which not only generates an income but also patrols these overlooked areas, aid restoration and discourage poaching.

Contact: pugdundeesafaris@gmail.com

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The Billy Arjan Singh Memorial Award for Best Wildlife Guide of the 2012

Award sponsored by Cox & Kings
JOINT WINNER: Yadvendra Singh Rajawat, Ranthambhore
The Billy Arjan Singh Memorial Award for Best Wildlife Guide of the 2012

Yadvendra has worked in Ranthambhore for 20 years and been the President of the Guide Association for ten of these years. He is dedicated to Ranthambhore, and a preferred guide to a number of well-known operators. He is a regular volunteer on Census and works closely with the management team to root out bad practices. He runs many training programmes for new guides and takes part in anti-poaching patrols and fire service when necessary.

Contact: yadtiger@gmail.com

JOINT WINNER: Vipal Jain, Ranthambhore
The Billy Arjan Singh Memorial Award for Best Wildlife Guide of the 2012

Vipal has worked in park since 1993 and has been involved with a number of travel companies and their NGO’s that run projects in and around the area the Tiger Awareness charity.

Contact: vipultiger2001@gmail.com

JOINT RUNNERS UP: Guru Prasad Yadav, Kanha
The Billy Arjan Singh Memorial Award for Best Wildlife Guide of the 2012

Guru is a local guide who started work in Kanha over 20 years ago from the Mukki park guide. He is one of the oldest guides in the park today with extensive knowledge of flora and fauna.

Contact: via Ratna Singh ratna.singh@tajsafaris.com

JOINT RUNNERS UP: Ajay Marskole, Pench
The Billy Arjan Singh Memorial Award for Best Wildlife Guide of the 2012

Ajay is from the local Gond tribe which borders with Pench. Ajay is very knowledgeable on mammals and birds as well as being excellent with guests.

Contact: via Mridula Tangirala Mridula.Tangirala@tajsafaris.com

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The John Wakefield Memorial Award for most Inspirational Eco Lodge of the Year 2012

JOINT WINNER: Mahua Kothi, Bandhavgarh
The John Wakefield Memorial Award for most Inspirational Eco Lodge of the Year 2012

Run by &Beyond (Tajsafaris) since 2006, it’s 26 acres have a small and aesthetically well placed building footprint that borders an important corridor between the Tala and the Khitauli range of the park, and allows the remainder free range for wildlife. It is run by an Ex WII wildlife biologist Neel Gogate and his team. The lodge involves the local community in its work, provided world class training to all staff, and also supports many projects including helping reintroduce the wild Gaur back into Bandhavgarh.

Contact: neel.gogate@tajsafaris.com

JOINT WINNER: Tiger Trails Jungle Lodge, Tadoba
The John Wakefield Memorial Award for most Inspirational Eco Lodge of the Year 2012

Started in 1996 this lodge is an really good example of how tourism can transform life, turning barren land and dried up stream beds back to life to create a haven for wildlife. It’s based on 30 acres of land, of which the building footprint is kept to a small area with a further 9 restored to wildlife. Its effect has been the transformation of the park area too, with decreasing in poaching, restoration of rivers and trees and bountiful wildlife has returned and new and stable livelihoods for bordering communities.

Contact: info@tigertrails.in

RUNNER UP: Singinawa Jungle Lodge, Kanha
The John Wakefield Memorial Award for most Inspirational Eco Lodge of the Year 2012

Singinawa is set in 56 acres of land that has been divided into the Singinawa Jungle Lodge (only 2 acres used for the lodge) and the Singinawa Conservation Area which is restored habitat for nature. The lodge supports the local community with health and education and actively promotes conservation, with valuable funding and equipment support.

Contact: Dr Latika Nath Rana tigersinindia@gmail.com

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Visitor Friendly Wildlife Destination of the Year 2012

Award sponsored by idiscover
Visitor Friendly Wildlife Destination of the Year 2012

Ranthambhore is now an excellent wildlife experience, and has a blooming tiger population. Visitor numbers are close to 150,000 but the tourism is managed by opening up more areas with fewer vehicles, greater sensitivity, better cooperation between tourism, guides and park management and good use of NGO’s to support park management and communities. Thanks to converting 10 cattle herders to guides, a whole new part of the park has seen a new generation of tigers after 25 years.

Contact: gvreddy.rajforests@gmail.com

RUNNER UP: Pench Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh
Visitor Friendly Wildlife Destination of the Year 2012

The Field Director’s team at Pench has been judged recently by NTCA as one of the best managed in the country. Tourism now stands at significant levels of 69000 visits in 2011-12 and is run in a well ordered and well managed way within the park itself. Tigers numbers are in a healthy way, with heavy herbivore densities and recent WII research has had a significant bearing on the current debate with effects of tourism on tiger breeding.

Contact: dirpenchnp@mpforest.org

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