TOFTigers Awards 2018 Winners
On the United Nations’ World Tourism Day this year (September 27, 2018), TOFTigers, in association with Sanctuary Nature Foundation, celebrated and rewarded those leading from the front in sustainable eco-tourism initiatives in India and Nepal.
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Award Category Sponsors
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The Winners and Runners Up for 2018
Wildlife Tourism Related Community Initiative of the Year 2018
WINNER: Jatayu Vulture Restaurant, Nepal
The brainchild of D.B. Chaudhary, a local naturalist and lodge manager, Jatayu Vulture Restaurant is the first community-managed vulture restoration project in the buffer zone of Nepal’s Chitwan National Park. The restaurant provides safe food to wild vulture populations by feeding them cattle carcasses that are ensured to be free of diclofenac. This simple programme has helped revive populations of eight endangered vulture species, leading to a 150% increase in vulture populations in the buffer zone and 200% rise in their nesting.
RUNNER UP: Tora Eco Resort & Life Experience Centre, Sundarbans, West Bengal
Run by the community-led Bali Nature and Wildlife Conservation Society in association with Vivada Hospitality, the Tora Eco Resort & Life Experience Centre puts money generated back into community programmes and wildlife conservation awareness initiatives. The resort has successfully built an integrated livelihood model around a clever eco-tourism project.
The Billy Arjan Singh Memorial Award Wildlife Guide of the Year 2018
WINNER: Ramkali Dhurway, Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh
A guide at the Mukki gate since 2011, she is one of Kanha’s most sought-after guides for her in-depth knowledge of the park’s flora and fauna, and her unrivalled ability to narrate their stories. Her ability to interact with both domestic and international guests, steadfast work ethic and extensive knowledge combine to ensure that visitors have a great recreational and educational experience. Dhurway is the first woman to win this prestigious award.
RUNNER UP: Ramrao Sakharam Nehare, Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra
A committed guide and naturalist at the park since 1998, he is a ‘Tadoba insider’ in the truest sense. Born in a village once located inside the park’s core area, Nehare has grown up seeing how nature tourism benefited his community. Being fond of reading English books, he has learnt English off his own back.
Wildlife and Tourism Award of the Year 2018
WINNER: Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust, Ladakh
The Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust began conceptualising village home stays as immersive nature tourism experiences in 2003 to support the conservation of endangered snow leopards. The Ladakhi villages of Ulay and Rumbak are now two of the best places in the world to sight these once-elusive creatures. The charity’s focus on building the capacity of local communities to diversify their livelihoods, while also protecting wildlife is the strongest prescription for conservation. The project now encompasses 21 settlements covering 164 families, and what was once a wildlife crisis is now a conservation triumph and recognised as one of the Himalaya’s most successful programmes. For more: http://snowleopardindia.org/
RUNNER UP: Terra Conscious, Goa
A community-based travel and social impact enterprise focusing on coastal conservation, Terra Conscious encourages and practices sustainable marine tourism in collaboration with community boat operators. Their efforts are centred around the Indian Ocean Humpback Dolphin off the coast, encouraging responsible dolphin watching, with 8 community boat operators who collaborate together each day. To know more: http://www.terraconscious.com
Lodge Naturalist of the Year 2018
WINNER: Siddarth Biniwale, Reni Pani Jungle Lodge, Satpura Tiger reserve, MP
A geologist by education, Biniwale is passionate about bird watching and camera-trapping photography. Going beyond his duties as a naturalist at the lodge, he monitors water holes in the buffer zone of the reserve and coordinates with the forest department to ensure that they are well-maintained. He has worked as a naturalist at Reni Pani over the last few years, conducting fun-filled trips for clients around the park and organising several nature orientation programmes in his home town of Pune and around the villages of Satpura Tiger Reserve.
RUNNER UP: Uday Patel, Courtyard House, Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh
Uday Patel has been an active naturalist and writer for more than two decades. His knowledge of birds and mammals is second to none in Kanha; he is also a superb wildlife tracker. In his spare time and during the monsoons, he motivates school and college students to conserve nature through lectures and nature trips. He is also associated with the forest department in Jabalpur and with the CFN Society.
The John Wakefield Memorial Award for Most inspirational Eco lodge of the Year 2018
JOINT WINNER: Khem Villas, Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan
Khem Villas is set in 25 acres of once-barren and overgrazed land just 15 km from Sawai Madhophur town, the gateway to Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve. Owned and managed by Dr. Goverdhan Rathore and his wife Usha, the lodge is home to over 180 bird species, 45 species of butterflies, a host of mammals and 30 species of native trees. They also practice water-harvesting, energy efficiency, kitchen gardening, and invest in community development initiatives. It gained TOFTigers’ highest PUG eco-rating in 2017. With a fastidious focus on environmental sustainability, the lodge has had a profound and lasting effect on the area over the last decades. For more info: http://www.khemvillas.com/
JOINT WINNER: Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge, Chitwan National Park, Nepal
Tiger Tops set the framework for responsible tourism almost six decades ago – and still holds on to the same values. The Tharu Lodge, originally designed in the 1970s, sets the bar for old-charm hospitality, low environment impact, and long-term support for buffer zone and local communities. It supplies vehicles and manpower to parks for wildlife management and bird census work, secures salaries for teachers in three community schools, and has its own free health clinic and ambulance services. To know more: http://www.tigertops.com/tharu-lodge/
RUNNER UP: Dhole’s Den, Bandipur National Park, Karnataka
Run by Kartik Davey and his wife Ingrid, this contemporary homestay with a panoramic view of the Nilgiris beyond the wild and restored gardens is a shining example of uncompromising eco-standards. The Dhole’s Den Research Foundation supports community schools and the Bandipur Forest Department in different capacities. They also recently helped paint the park’s anti-poaching camps. It’s PUG Outstanding eco-rated and deserves this award. For more: https://dholesden.com/
Up and Coming Excellence in Nature Award 2018
WINNER: Red Earth Resort, Kabini, Karnataka
Owned and run by Ravi Parameswaran and his wife Rachel, Red Earth is a carefully-crafted eco-lodge built on 10 acres of a once-barren peninsula jutting into the Kabini dam. Today, it is a completely-restored area that hosts a variety of wildlife with extensive tree cover. The lodge boasts of an able workforce that is 100% locally-sourced. Focused on community welfare, they support a local residential school for 200 children and a 12-bed local hospital. Red Earth practices high-standard waste, water and energy management. For more info: http://www.redearthkabini.in/
RUNNER UP: Flame of the Forest Safari Lodge, Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh
Set up by Isabelle and Karan Modi, this boutique safari lodge has shining eco-credentials with low environmental impact, well-trained local employees, and an extraordinary community women’s health project that has now spread to over 48 villages around the park. For more: http://flameoftheforest.in/en_GB/
Wildlife Promotion Company of the Year 2018
No award was given here. The judges felt that no company would win this award this year as there were no outstanding examples of those who operated and promoted their responsible eco-friendly credentials to the maximum extent possible to their travel partners, clients and guests.
International Tour Operator Of The Year 2018
WINNER: All for Nature, Netherlands
Founder Annemiek Van Gijn started this Dutch business to support wildlife conservation over eight years ago, with customers from the Benelux countries. Her very real commitment to drive responsible travel and support for nature manifests itself in a host of ways, including full Tour Operators certification, a commitment to use only PUG-certified lodges in India and Nepal, and a pledge to invest 10% of the ITO’s turnover into nature conservation projects through a host of projects across the globe. All for nature is a great example of responsible tour operation. For more info: http://www.allfornature.nl
JOINT RUNNERS UP: Greaves Travel, UK
For 40 years, Greaves Travel has worked across the Indian subcontinent as a responsible tour operator, highlighting its efforts with both concrete actions and substantial support with funds to a range of both wildlife- and people- focused charities on the subcontinent. Its founding owner Mehra Dalton, together with Tanya Dalton, continue to drive the message of sustainability through all their travel programmes and they are worthy joint runners up. To know more: http://www.greavestravel.com/
JOINT RUNNERS UP: Natural World Safaris, UK
Will Bolsover’s Natural World Safaris is a specialist safari operator on a mission to promote wildlife conservation and generate awareness around it. Visitor contributions to their local conservation partners are made for all safaris. For more info: http://www.naturalworldsafaris.com