Karnataka Forest Department is contesting the Rolex Award given to conservationist Krithi for facilitating compensation for people affected by human-wildlife conflict.

Karnataka conservationist wins Rolex award state forest dept objectsKrithi Karanth via FB
news Conservation Saturday, June 22, 2019 - 18:47

On June 14, Bengaluru-based conservationist Krithi Karanth won the Rolex Award for Enterprise for her and her four-year-old organisation Wild Seve’s work for helping people who have been affected by human-wildlife conflicts in getting compensation. “[Wild Seve] identifies conflict hotspots and currently serves half a million people living in 600 villages near Bandipur and Nagarahole Parks in Karnataka. It has filed 14,000 claims for 6,400 families, worth $200,000, which has decreased hostility and increased trust between conservationists and communities,” the citation reads.

While this should have been cause for celebration, the Karnataka Forest Department raised an objection to the same, saying Krithi played no role in facilitating compensation to thousands of human-wildlife conflict victims in Karnataka.

Countering Krithi, the Forest Department has said that the Bandipur Tiger Reserve has never engaged or associated – either in the past or as of now – with any private individuals or organizations/NGOs for the such work. "The activities such as crop/livestock damage assessment, processing of claim records, and settlement of compensation/ex-gratia payment claims etc. are performed by the forest officials of Bandipur Tiger Reserve, Karnataka," the statement said. “Hence, the claims being made in this regard by any individuals, organization, or NGOs are false baseless and far from the truth.”

In response, the Centre for Wildlife Studies, of which 40-year-old Krithi is the director, has also issued a counter, clarifying that they have merely assisted people who approached them for help in seeking compensation, and have not paid the said compensation to them.

"The Wild Seve Program does not claim that has provided direct compensation payment as is alleged. We have built 48 livestock sheds for rural beneficiaries as well as borne expenses of managing the project. We also want to make clear that there may be other cases of wildlife damage which were filed with the government without our assistance. Nowhere have we claimed that such cases were facilitated by our Wild Seve program."

“Providing such assistance to victims of wildlife conflict is a perfectly legal activity which is encouraged by the government,” CWS added.

They also said that they had submitted the requisite documents regarding the cases they assisted on to the Forest Department’s local staff. “All the 13702 claims for ex-gratia compensation handled by Wild Seve were submitted to forest department local staff on behalf beneficiaries for the past four years. For the Forest Department to now assert it was unaware of these claims is absurd.”

The Rolex Award for Enterprise is awarded by Rolex, the luxury watch maker, to people with innovative and original ideas that are changing communities. The winners are also given a large financial grant to further their projects.

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