21-year-old Rahul Kumar is a dedicated undergraduate Biology student from India. He has worked with several organizations in his home country to protect wildlife and create better practices for conserving natural habitats and resources. His project, an online platform to create awareness and public support for wildlife issues in the state of Bihar, India, was one of the winners of the 2013 CoalitionWILD Wilder World Challenge. He is now a CoalitionWILD Ambassador.
CoalitionWILD is an exciting ongoing program to inspire and empower younger generations into the future. As a movement of rising leaders creating a wilder world, the initiative promotes successful projects via a website (www.CoalitionWILD.org) and acts as an action catalyst as well as an inspirational hub for tomorrow’s leaders.
Rahul is definitely one of these inspirational young leaders, with his website that engages more individuals into protecting nature in India and functions as a central information source and platform for public participation, connecting communities throughout the country. Ensuring that local wildlife concerns are thoroughly documented and highlighted with regular updates is the main goal of the website. Additionally, it will allow anyone to report illegal activities, seek assistance in case of an emergency (rescue or treatment of wildlife), as well as increase awareness for local environmental campaigns.
Working in wildlife projects since high school, Rahul has also committed himself to exposing corruption, illegal wildlife trade and creating awareness of exploitive activities occurring in local communities and zoos in his hometown of Patna as well as Bihar, such as the capture of rare species of snakes by snake charmers, the illegal extraction of snake venom, and the sale of endangered species of birds. In 2012, he became a survey assistant for the Ganges River Dolphin Survey, a project from the Vikramshila Biodiversity Research and Education Center collecting information about the Ganges River biodiversity, specifically the endemic dolphin populations, and socioeconomic conditions of fishing communities. The Ganges River dolphin is classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and this project contributes to its conservation by also providing important recommendations for developing sustainable fisheries.
Exposed to the harming river management practices, last year Rahul started working on a sub-project of the Ganges River Dolphin Conservation Project named “Dolphin Mitra” or Friends of the Dolphins. This sub-project seeks to involve local fisherman in becoming active in the monitoring and reporting of illegal activities in the Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary because “it is crucial that we encourage agile participation at the grassroots level”. Creating this network of vigilant fisherman has already exposed some individuals with illegal and incredibily destructive fishing practices, such as using a mosquito net to fish, which can now be closely monitored. The network also aims to establish safer practices which are more sensitive to the needs of the endangered dolphin population.
Rahul Kumar is thus part of this new generation of conservationists tirelessly working and campaigning to induce change around the world. Although acknowledging that it’s a long road ahead, he firmly believes that the “time to begin the wildlife conservation crusade worldwide has arrived” and we shouldn’t be pessimistic because “there are infinite possibilities everywhere!”